Guy Ben-Ner

Guy Ben-Ner was born in 1969 in Isreal. Lives and works in Isreal.

In his piece for MADE UP entitled Second Nature (2008), Ben-Ner created a video that emerged from
Aesop’s fable The Fox and the Crow. It’s a video in three parts that blurred the boundaries between fact
and fiction. One part of the video was shot as a documentary about specialist animal trainers training
a fox and a crow to re-enact the fable, but developed into a fictional re-telling of the fable itself by the
animals, interjected with a re-enactment of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot by the animal trainers.
The dialogue between human and animal was crucial, exploring subtle modifications in behaviour made
through the interaction between the two, where one could never truly control the other.

In the repetitive and questionably futile action of trainee and trainer, Ben-Ner’s video owes much to the
plays of Beckett – the trainer trains the animals to re-enact the fable; Ben-Ner trains the trainer to act
in the documentary and the play; and the animals train each other within the tale itself. He used the
same setting, a lonely tree, to tell two different stories – one a fable and one a play. Ben-Ner revealed the
function of fables – the use of animals to tell human stories and instruct our own moral behaviour – and
mimicked their strategies to manipulate the animal trainers as the fable unfolded. Essentially the action
was the same, repeated again and again. The documentary and the fiction mirrored each other and thus
the fiction became the reality, questioning the parameters of both concepts, whilst also examining the
peculiar and blurred power relationships between the trainer and the trained.