Video art, made in Ikea
Intimate bedroom scenes shot using showroom furniture? Julia Weiner investigates
GUY BEN-NER – STEALING BEAUTY
Gimpel Fils, London W1
ISRAELI VIDEO- and film-maker Guy Ben-Ner filmed his last movie on location in an unlikely set — among the contemporary furniture at Ikea, in three different countries.
Ben Ner’s new exhibition at Gimpel Fils includes the first showing in this country of his latest work, Stealing Beauty. Ben-Ner recalls: “It was shot in various Ikea stores in Tel Aviv, New York and Berlin. They have these showrooms that look like sitcom sets, so we decided to shoot a sitcom there but didn’t ask permission. We went into the store and started shooting, and the minute they kicked us out, we had to go to a different store. Since they all looked the same, it was OK.”
Scenes in the film include intimate exchanges between the artist and his wife in bed, which suddenly transform into a public space when shoppers carrying Ikea shopping bags enter the frame.
Says Ben-Ner: “The longest we stayed in one store was five hours, the shortest 10 seconds, and they were both in the same store. But it depended on how complicated what we were doing was. If I had to wear pyjamas or we were having a conversation in bed, then they noticed us immediately.” Ben-Ner, who represented Israel at the 2005 Venice Biennale, was born in Ramat Gan in 1969 and studied at the Hamidrasha Art School from 1994-97. Most of his videos feature his wife and two children in starring roles. He explains why. “It started from necessity. My daughter was born when I was 24. If I’d wanted to pursue my practice in the studio, I wouldn’t have had time to be with my daughter.”
He adds: “The films take the place of family albums as we don’t have photo albums.” Guy Ben-Ner’s Stealing Beauty is at Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies Street, London W1K 4NB (020 7493 2488), until November 17
Guy Ben-Ner, with his wife and family on location at Ikea