Guy Ben-Ner’s Moby Dick features himself and his 6-year-old daughter play-acting in their home kitchen in ways that take to absurd extremes the aesthetic of family home videos. Using minimal props (a rope and a pole) Ben-Ner transforms the space into a make-believe ship – a playground for the reenactment of the classic tale.
As highlights from the great epos are brought into the intimacy of the home, the battle between the larger-than-life Captain Ahab and the great whale are ironically reduced to a power play within the domestic environment. Using the camera tricks of early classical cinema as a constant referent, Ben-Ner intercuts his video with Buster-Keaton-like slapsticks, funny and borderline sadistic, which convey a sense of the potency of – and constant threat of impotency inherent in – family affairs.
Ben-Ner has found a way to balance his roles as artist and father by creating video works that star his own children. In doing so, he implies, as critic Richard O Jones put it, that parenting can contribute to artistic creation as much as artistic creation can contribute to creative parenting.