Sep 15, 2011

PROFILE | Nathalie Djurberg and the Id

Still from The Experiment (2009)

     Nathalie Djurberg is a promising young artist who won the Silver Lion Award for the 2009 Venetian Biennial. Despite being admired by many, the nature of Djurberg’s work leaves some to speculate and feel resistance. As Jeff Regensburger puts it, “Her work creates a tension that forces viewers to confront the horrors they see while simultaneously dreading the horrors that come next.” The work of Nathalie Djurberg is creepy and perverse. It reminds me of a Tim Burton film, but goes a lot farther than “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The images are like from a nightmare—the kind you wake up sweating from are too ashamed or afraid to talk about.
Her claymation animation depicts power struggle and sexuality which are defined by subjectivity and torture, typically of young women. Some characters resist the perverse nature of their situation while others indulge and create it. Initially, her art disgusted me, but at the same time I was drawn to it and was left wondering why.
     In her exhibitions, she uses both clay sculptures and films of her clay characters, which includes music by Hans Berg. Regine wrote on her work Experiment saying it was “recreating a Garden of Eden from hell.” I must say I agree. The alien design of the Jurassic-sized flowers, although beautiful, are dark in nature. To add to this effect is the lack of light displayed on them. As one walks into the exhibit, they must be meant to feel as though they have fallen into some dream-like world, where everything seems only slightly off—that is, until they watch the videos displayed. I believe Djurberg is pulling on the darkness that exists within humans—an unconscious tendency or desire towards what society tells us is incredibly wrong.
     During an interview, Djurberg is asked about the nakedness of her characters. She says, “Part of the erotic aspect comes from the puppets being naked, I think, but that's also because they should not be placed in a specific context. When they are dressed, you put them in a specific situation, depending on what clothe you put on them…also because there's a fragility with nakedness.” Her answer helped me to understand that although her claymation can be very erotic, the viewer should not be mislead into thinking that this is the main focus of her work. Rather, she is attempting to omit information that would hinder the meaning of the work. That we should focus on human nature rather than the society which surrounds us and affects our thought and actions.

Still from Snakes Knows It’s Yoga (2011)

     And when asked about the situations of her young women, Djurberg explained that sex, for most women at least, can be lovely, but there are also times when one doesn’t feel anything, or even that it hurts. She brought to light that we have chosen to depict one aspect of sex and omit the rest. Djurberg also explains that she is very interested in the point where how we feel changes and says that, “it’s always easy to take advantage of the ones that have not defined themselves completely yet.”
     I must admit that my initial emotion towards Djurberg’s work was horror. I couldn’t understand why any individual would put out work that is incredibly perverse; however, after reading what she herself had to say about her work, I understood that it has a lot to do with a part of the psyche that we may not completely understand or want to admit exists at all—the id.

--Bianca High

1 comment:

  1. This is really neat! I have never heard of her before! I went and looked up her videos on youtube and someone had one they recorded of one of her gallery shows. It really is like a tim burton movie ; It's definitely very dark and disturbing. Her gallery shows seem magical in a way, it is almost like being in some amazing fantastical world!

    - Erin Davis