part of France-Israel Year 2018
Since the early 1990s, Guy Ben-Ner has been filming himself with his family in both private or public spaces transformed ad hoc into studios or fantastic playrooms. A series of films gradually grew out of his personal history, but also in reference to the history of art and cinema. Offering multiple entry points into a deeply human approach, this work translates into a gently surrealistic style, which can include both sophisticated cinematic devices and clever do-it-yourself elements.
On the occasion of this first personal exhibition in a contemporary art space in France, the artist is presenting two films. For I'd give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it, made in 2007 as part of Skulptur Projekte in Münster, the artist reconstructs - with the complicity of his children - a bicycle from fragments of works that he disassembles in the rooms of a museum: Duchamp's wheel, Picasso's handlebars, Tinguely's frame, etc. In a humorous way, he extracts these objects from the authority of museums to make them functional once again, creating an assemblage which then transports the family throughout the city.
The film Escape artists - his latest production, shown here in its entirety - reappropriates the language of film. For the last three years, the artist has been giving weekly video lessons in the Holot prison, built in 2013. Situated in the Negev desert in Israel, 2 kilometres from the Egyptian border, the prison welcomes asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan. As cameras are not allowed inside the prison, the film team had to work using mobile phones.
"Realizing that the problems dealt with cinematographically and the problems of the situation in which we found ourselves coincided, I decided to reverse the course of things" says the artist. "It is not the film that allows asylum seekers to speak, but rather these people who permit the expression of the cinematographic tools. Escape artists can thus be read as a pedagogical manual for filmmaking, while refugee life is only a by-product that surfaces, as if unintentionally, as a Kulechov effect ".