“A Journey Through Mud and Confusion with Small Glimpses of Air”
Art likes to remind us that beneath our habits, behaviour, and decisions, and behind our choices, are layers of hidden, untameable, unconscious and sub conscious thoughts in which all normal conventions about beauty and ugliness, disgust and respectability unravel. Djuberg explores this great iceberg, which represents pulsations and regression and creates art videos with handmade plasticine sculptures. Hans Berg, with his techno/hypnotic music, manages to give life and shape to the distorted aesthetic of these narrative videos.
A band of animal-like characters personify human vice and perversion, like a new circle in Dante’s Inferno inhabited by crocodile gangsters, frightened horny pigs, killer rats and a strange form of humanity made up of victims and murderers. As if in some colourful nightmare, the handmade plasticine characters crafted by Djuberg tear at each other in order to recompose themselves, they amalgamate amongst each other or, in the case of “The Potato, It’s the Mother”, they are birthed in an infinite manner, only to end up reabsorbed by the maternal womb (or, better yet, the Great Maternal Vagina).
Every sequence is hand-crafted via stop motion, Nathalie Djurberg says there is no real script, just an initial idea which the story follows according to the artist’s whims. What follows is a grotesque and vibrant cauldron, pure inborn fantasy (as the title states) in the mud, with occasional gasps for air. A gargantuan imaginarium of cartoonish characters, suspended between the aesthetics of Debuffet, Bosh and Linch, which live and breathe electronic music.
The musical compositions of Hans Berg, with whom Djurberg has been working since 2004, accompany and enrich the hypnotic footage and articulate the highly ordered chaos of the scenes. The cutting techno rhythm helps the stories’ pathos to rise or accompanies the compulsive repetition of the backdrops, as is the case in the corridors in “One Need Not Be a House, The Brain Has Corridors”, helping to create a psychedelic tension.
On their collaboration, Berg states “most of the time, when she has an idea for a new project, we start to discuss it in rather abstract terms. When the project gets more concrete, and Nathalie starts working on set among puppets and sculptures, I start thinking about what mood I need to evoke, I listen to pieces for inspiration, I collect samples and record something in the studio. She then shows me the final product, and only then do I start composing. The music acts emotively on the spectator and influences his reactions to what he’s seeing. It also gives the work a three-dimensionality which fills in the blanks.”
The works of Djurberg and Berg are a journey which leaves one breathless, in which it is possible to lose oneself in the obsessive attention to detail, the visual perfection and the narrative of the stories. Plenty of sex, violence, desire, bestiality, guilt and yet more temptations, done repetitively, feed the artistic body of this engorged, pulsating work.
If we can call someone an artist for his or her ability to have a vast, complex and unique inner world, then Djurberg, who finds the perfect partner for bringing her work to life in Hans Berg, certainly fits the bill.
ed: Natalie Djurberg, class of 1987, a Swedish artist who works in Berlin, winner of the Silver Lion and of the Carnegie Art Award, has exhibited her work in the most important international institutions, including Tate Britain, P.S. 1 in New York, 21stCentury Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai and the Prada Foundation in Milan.
She has collaborated with musician, producer and composer Hans Berg, a fellow Swede living in Berlin. The exhibition at the MART in Rovereto is the largest anthology of the artistic duo, and includes their earliest and most recent work, animated videos and sculptures, virtual reality and large installations, such as the giant potato created by the employees of the Prada Foundation of 2008, “The Experiment” for the Venice Biennial of 2009 and “The Parade” (2011), which has for now only been seen in the United States.
by Fiammetta de Michele