Part of Winter 2007
Israeli artist Guy Ben-Ner visits Toronto for the first time to introduce a survey of videos from 1999 to present. Ben-Ner is a go-for-broke storyteller whose art recuperates the underappreciated comedy quotient from early performance and video art, with nods to Chris Burden, Vito Acconci, Dennis Oppenheim, Martha Rosler, William Wegman, Roman Signer, Richard Serra and Joan Jonas, among others. He intersperses deft tributes to avant-garde artists into longer pantomimes that are fantastically inventive, imaginative and economical, conjuring the cinema spirit of both pioneering Hollywood, embodied in Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, and the American underground, exemplified by Ron Rice, the Kuchar Brothers and Jack Smith.
Ben-Ner’s Moby Dick collapses Herman Melville’s epic novel into a robust 12-minute silent abridgement entirely played out in the kitchen of the artist’s apartment. In Elia – A Story of an Ostrich Chick the family takes a walk in the park dressed in backward fitting bird costumes; the little adventures of their day are narrated in the manner of a 1950s-period Disney nature short. Other works on the programme include Berkeley’s Island, House Hold and Wild Boy.
In 2005, Guy Ben-Ner represented Israel at the 51st Venice Biennale, for which he created Tree House Kit, an installation and video work that will be on view in Montreal at the MusÃ©e d’art contemporain from February 10 to April 22, 2007.