A hope of change offers the possibility of many novelties yet carries the burden of risks along with it. In his video. Drop the Monkey, Guy Ben-Ner writes on a t-shirt he is wearing ‘I wish I was somewhere else” and thus seeks a hope of change. In Guy Ben-Ner’s work, the artist’s own life and his art are inseparable and change, rebellion and adaptation are core elements of this dynamic. In order to deal with them literally, metaphorically, and intellectually, the artist adopts the method of describing one, by hinting the other. This sets up an artistic platform where fact and fiction are interlaced.
Behind the facade of having made the videos in a fast and carefree manner, apparently without painstaking attention to detail, one finds a maze of profound arguments derived from and referring to literature, video making, philosophy, art and life overall. Even when a sequence looks as if it was shot randomly, on the spur of the moment, by closer look it reveals itself as a well thought and finely tuned display of complex and intimate ideas. These ideas transpire into a surreal atmosphere which makes Ben-Ner’s videos absurd in a way, while gradually leading into a logical portrayal that enables the viewers to question the real absurdity in their lives with his quasi dark comedy videos. His transitional textures between reality and fiction are cultivated by different methods, whichhe implements through rhyming or interweaves literature and fables into his scripts embedded into the storyline. In the same vein, he integrates his family members as characters of his scenarios with their true roles in life.
Further, it is even possible to come across his moving outdoors settings in his family kitchen. A new category of Ben-Ner’s attempts of blurring fact and fiction can be recognized in his frequent usage of the ready-made concept such as IKEA showrooms as a real set, and in his borrowing the sounds from commercials, or using recordings directly from the microphone of a coffee shop chain. The patchwork like collection of ideas, sounds, images and writings are elaborately inter- woven in his storylines. Nevertheless this dreamlike atmosphere thus created serves the purpose of delivering a message.
Guy Ben-Ner embraces the idea of creative learning, producing, solving and surviving capabilities of human beings while emphasizing the delusion of teaching in the conviction of generating an identical generation out of learners. He claims that the trust in being able to shape the individual as one wishes is an illusion of an educator, imposing one’s vision and norms seems arrogant. However it is more likely to make people deduce lessons out of them through their individual filters of personality, life and expectations. Education is a direct technique to orientate human beings, while the indirect way is to play with the subconscious, proceeding further into the manipulation. Ben-Ner investigates and experimentally reviews editing and shooting techniques and exposes the plays of image and sound over the viewer’s perception both by interpreting examples from film making history and by directly implementing them in his own works. Similar to the Gestalt principles used in understanding of movies,
where by viewing the brain completes, mechanizes, and codes the audio and physical stimulants in a logical sequence, are revealed by Ben-Ner. He discloses video making and editing strategies sometimes literally and
directly within the text, at other times by embedding them into the script. Another self deception mechanism of humans addressed by Ben-Ner is the so-called sociopolitical and economical order. His departing point is a
microcosmos of his own, such as in a touristic logo, he swipes over the broader concerns of actuality such as private property and ownership. He finally arrives in a dark but witty criticism of our economic system exemplified in modern employer – employee relationships. He hints that in an effort to adapt to the society, we force ourselves into systems that are artificially created. The artist then intimates that, in order to escape the alternative route of alienation, exclusion, or being overlooked by the society, humans are forced to succumb to the pressures of integration and adaptation. In this jungle of education, media manipulation, ownership issues, and power struggles, the essence of art and the position of the artist remain controversial. The artist is obliged to become adapted to these structures while standing against and criticizing them, by primarily integrating his own life in his art. By this way, Guy Ben-Ner invites the viewer to consider him/herself as a human being with weaknesses and strengths. The artist points out to the constructs we build in society that soon become traps to us. However he places his confidence in human
capabilities to generate value that can overcome those traps. Perhaps his views on the controversies about the artist’s position could be hidden in his messages.
T. Melis Golar