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.