Pagan Poetry - Nathalie Djurberg
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Snakes Know It's Yoga
The central installation Snakes Knows It’s Yoga, with 2 animation films and 42 sculptures, was previously shown at the Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover and then traveled to the Kunstforeningen GL Strand in Copenhagen in Autumn 2011. In Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen the exhibition was augmented with a selection of works from the past years and nine early films. Nathalie Djurberg has conceived a coloured window at the garden side of the Bodon rooms and painted seats specially for the museum.
Nathalie Djurberg was born in 1978 in Lysekil on the west coast of Sweden. Her mother ran a puppet theatre for a while, which performed in the nearby city of Göteborg. As a child Nathalie drew and made puppets from wet toilet paper. She went to art school at the age of sixteen to study sculpture and painting, first in Göteburg and later in Malmö. Following her studies Nathalie was unsure about her direction. It was only in 1999, when she made her first animated film - ‘Untitled (Sunset)’ - that she decided to become an artist. Djurberg and Berg met in Berlin and have worked as a duo since 2004. Most of Nathalie Djurberg’s animated films have music by Hans Berg. Their work has been shown all over the world. In 2008 they received the Carnegie Art Award. They won a Silver Lion at the 2009 Venice Biennale for an installation with three animated films entitled ‘The Experiment’.
The two animations from Snakes Know It's Yoga
One of the two animations has the same title as the whole installation and shows a yogi who is constantly disturbed in his meditation by a snake. Finally, the snake tears him into pieces and the yogi discovers - although in a totally different way than expected - the total liberation for which he was aiming. The other animation does not have a title and shows a woman and a frog who are able to take each other into ecstasy.
Hans Berg was born in 1978 in Rättvik in Sweden. He has been involved in music since an early age, playing drums in punk bands and experimenting with synthesisers in his teens. He is a self-taught musician and composes and produces his own techno/house music. He also performs live. Hans Berg has produced various albums and is currently working on an album with remixes of his film music. On this arttube video you hear music from the animation Untitled (woman with frog) from 2011 and, as an appetizer, a remix of Whales, an animation from 2008-2009. His music can also be listened to via Soundcloud.
The images in this video are close-ups of the sculptures of the installation Snakes Knows It’s Yoga. In the exhibition, they are mounted on wooden plinths and under plexiglas covers. Some are illuminated with coloured neon tubes. Most figures are the size of a glove puppet, but there are also a few giants and in some images there are masses of little dolls. The sculptures are made of a wide variety of materials - clay, silicon, textile, beads, hair etc.
The coloured window
Nathalie Djurberg based the coloured window and other painting-like elements in the exhibition on the memory of a visit during her childhood to the house and gardens of Claude Monet in France.
The first animated films
Nathalie Djurberg made her first animated film in 1999 from a series of oil paintings showing various stages of a sunset. In the years that followed she continued to experiment with the possibilities of animation. She soon began to work with modelled clay figures. Djurberg covers the clay figures with coloured plasticine enabling her to change not only the pose, but also the clothing and facial expressions. She sometimes makes her animations with charcoal drawings, which she gradually adds to and erases. But she does this only when she requires a black and white, grimy effect for her story. Generally she prefers to work as a painter, which means with colour.
The other animations
The following could also be seen in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen exhibition: My Name is Mud, 2003, On Fire, 2006 The Secret Handshake, 2006 Of Course I’m Working with Magic, 2007 Turn In To Me, 2008 Putting Down the Prey, 2008 The Experiment (Greed), 2009 The videos have been selected based on the themes transformation and transcendence.
Nathalie Djurberg does clay animation and Hans Berg composes music. Together they create pagan poetry in which existential questions are raised, such as: what is life? Some of the figures in the animated films seek the answer in pleasure, ecstasy or an ultimate experience, whether that is to be found in sex, drugs or pain. Others seek it in power and property or, on the other hand, believe they find the essence of life in total detachment. In this sense, the exhibition also deals with death. But its most important themes are fear and desire. The work of Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg has been compared to the classic fairy tales of Andersen and Grimm. However, their characters fear not the big bad wolf, but something within themselves. For this reason they long to step outside themselves and become, even if only briefly, another being. This video contains an interview with Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg and accompanies the exhibition Snakes Knows It’s Yoga, on view in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen from March 5th until May 1st 2011.
Research and direction: Els Hoek
Music: Hans Berg
Camera: Suzan van Steenwijk
Editing: Caroline Hoeberechts