There is an element of seduction when encountering films by Nathalie Djurberg (1978) and Hans Berg (1978) — striking and immediate, they attract the viewer into colorful, suggestive worlds accompanied by hypnotic music. Their playfully told, dismal fables full of black humor examine the great questions of humankind. The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is presenting the Swedish artist duo’s oeuvre for the first time in Germany in an extensive survey exhibition. On display are some 40 video and sound works from the past two decades, including early videos such as My Name Is Mud (2003) and Tiger Licking Girl’s Butt (2004), large-format spatial installations like The Parade (2011) and The Potato (2008), recent works such as One Need Not Be a House, The Brain Has Corridors (2018), and Dark Side of the Moon (2017), numerous sculptures, and the duo’s first virtual-reality work It Will End in Stars (2018).
Nathalie Djurberg became known for her stop-motion films as early as 2003 —a slow, very elaborate animation technique in which a series of stills creates the illusion of a movement. The figures made of plasticine, clay, fabric, and artificial hair are protagonists in a filmic narration for which Hans Berg has provided the music since 2004, composing a specific soundtrack for each film. Both members of the artist duo work intuitively in their own medium—without a prewritten script, a storyboard, or a predetermined dramatic curve.
Through the interplay of sculpture, moving pictures, and sound, the viewers get caught up in a maelstrom that it is virtually impossible to resist. Djurberg and Berg let their figures step into action in isolated places, in the forest, in a cave, a chamber, or on a stage, where they are driven by an unconscious inner longing or experience painful, sometimes even comical situations. The artists take visitors to the exhibition on a journey into the interior of humankind —with films that resemble absurd dreams and suppressed memories and explore the limits of what is humanly tolerable in a dense atmosphere.