• Guy Ben-Ner, Moby Dick, 2000, still from a color video, 12 minutes 35 seconds.

    Guy Ben-Ner

    Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA)
    87 Marshall Street
    July 19, 2013–March 31, 2010

    Curated by Susan Cross

    Whether clandestinely setting up house with his wife and kids in functioning IKEA showrooms, performing a slapstick version of Moby-Dick with his daughter in a suburban kitchen, or having his son pretend to be a feral child encountering civilization for the first time (to cite three of the eight videos in Mass MoCA’s exhibition, which also includes drawings and costumes), Israeli-born artist Guy Ben-Ner clearly knows how to have fun. Indeed, the artist’s overt sociopolitical critiques—the détournement of IKEA’s lifestyle propaganda, the parody of white-goods fetishization, and the critical take on education, say, in the examples above—risk seeming pat or contrived in relation to the politics of advocating good times with the family. Nevertheless, it is tempting to set cavils aside in the face of Ben-Ner’s vaudevillian chirpiness—especially, perhaps, with a newly commissioned video that features the artist and Mass MoCA’s director in a “Beckett-like” scenario.