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Contemporary Art & Design presents Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

– ”Hippos and Crocodiles” from "I am a Wild Animal"

Nathalie Djurberg invites us to glimpse snippets of an entirely different world, one at the limits of our imagination – is it a dream, a fairy tale or a fancy dress show? Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg’s strange world of humour and darkness urges us to dare to explore human nature and ourselves!

Djurberg and Berg are counted amongst Europe’s best and most unique artists. Djurberg creates stop-motion animations that musician and composer Berg, sets to music, in a close collaboration that began about fifteen years ago. Videos, spatial installations and sculptures form the foundation of their work. The relationship between humans, animals and forces of nature is the constant, vibrant theme that occupies their shared universe.

The duo’s work contains a large amount of dark humour as well as references to popular culture and art history. Berg’s hypnotic music evocatively emphasises the various emotional states, propelling the story forward. The characters’ sense of isolation is clear – they often project a kind of loneliness, have low self-esteem or a distorted self-image, and looks or behaviours that aren’t usually socially accepted.
The suffering, the inertia, the anger and the sadness – it is all a reflection of the artist herself, even if the events and the characters aren’t autobiographical. As the stories generally tend not to have a clear beginning or an end they are left open to interpretation. Perhaps something happens in a parallel world that changes the ending of the video, or lets it begin where the previous one ended? The films are often about daring to face your nightmares or fears and having the courage to see what can come out of those encounters.

› 349. ”Hippos and Crocodiles” from ”I am a Wild Animal”. Estimate 500 000 – 600 000 SEK.

The world is in constant transformation in Djurberg’s videos. Bodies lose their shapes and acquire new ones in complicated and grotesque metamorphoses. The boundary between animals and humans is fluid – they move in the same world. The narrative technique is reminiscent of classic children’s stories. At first glance, the films appear to follow a traditional narrative, but then surprise the viewer by turning into something completely unexpected. The characters, through instinctive actions, affirm and explore their sexuality and bestiality.

Some characters and places recur, like the human figure with a red mask interacting with three hippopotamuses and three crocodiles in the video piece I am a Wild Animal from 2011. The sculpture group Hippos and Crocodiles form a kind of still image from this video, in which the viewer gets to follow, up close, how animals and humans simultaneously leave the ocean and take the evolutionary leap onto land. The story depicts a man’s awakening as he hears the opinions of animals on humans as more developed beings and that it is our pre-conceived ideas about animals that stop us from living in symbiosis. And just when an understanding between species appears to have been found, the crocodile still takes the conscious (or compulsive) decision to eat the man.

Massimiliano Gioni writes the following lines in the Moderna Museet exhibition catalogue:
“You could say that all the characters in Djurberg and Berg’s digital fables long to become wild animals. This is almost a reversal of the logic you find in animated Disney films, the archetypes of almost all contemporary fairy tales. In Disney films the animals are metaphors for human behaviour and are domesticated; they are harmless, saccharine, standardised versions of ourselves. In Djurberg and Berg’s work, however, it is the humans that reveal their similarities with the animal kingdom’s beings, by embodying brutally simple desires and yearnings. The comparison with the animal world highlights the way that bestiality is an integrative part of humanity, perhaps even its most basic feature.”

When is the viewing and auction?
Viewing 27 October – 1 November, Berzelii Park 1, Stockholm.
Open Mon–Fri 11 AM – 6 PM, Sat–Sun kl 11 AM –5 PM.
Auction 2 November, starts at 11 am CET, Arsenalsgatan 2, Stockholm.

To the work

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