Art | Djurberg & Berg’s Stop-motion Journey

We Are Not Two
We Are One
, 2008

Stop-motion animation
video + music, 5:33 mins

Djurberg & Berg
A Journey Through
Mud and Confusion with
Small Glimpses of Air

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
28 February > 26 May 2019

Its-the-Mother, 2008
Stop-motion animation
video + music, 6:00 mins

In the 1950s, American artist, Robert Breer, invited the ageing Marcel Duchamp (1887 > 1968) to his Paris studio. Duchamp’s first reaction to the abstract, animated films Breer showed him was, ‘Very nice, but don’t you think they’re a bit too fast?’

Swedish Contemporary artist Nathalie Djurberg uses the same stop-motion technique as Breer (1926 > 2011). Slow and incredibly laborious, it involves the production of multiple still images that, when run together, create the illusion of movement. But, while Breer’s objective was the least possible feeling of continuity, Djurberg produces dreamlike realities that have the appearance of live-action movies.

The Experiment at
Moderna Museet 2018,
installation view
Photo Åsa Lundén /
Moderna Museet

Djurberg first became known as an artist/filmmaker in 2003. She met fellow-Swede and experimental sound producer Hans Berg the following year; they have since worked together as a duo. Berg’s soundscapes add their own dimension to the intense scenes which Djurberg conjures up, constructs, lights and photographs.

As a student at Malmö Academy, which had no animation course, Djurberg went through a period during which she started to play around with photographing her sculptures and began to question whether what she was producing was art. Her overwhelming compulsion to make it for its own sake would provide the impetus for her to proceed. Sensitive and thoughtful, despite the erotic – even pornographic – content of some of the pair’s work, Djurberg insists that she is non-confrontational; her dearest wish is not to provoke. She relates strongly to the characters she creates, who, ‘may express different characteristics, and oscillate between different emotional states, but are all the same person’.

Dark-Side-of-the-Moon, 2017
Stop-motion animation
video + music, 6:40 mins

Open Window, 2011
Stop-motion animation

video + music, 5:54 mins

By contrast, cool and unemotional, Berg comes across as a total geek. His music is not a post-production addition, however; it is made simultaneously with Djurberg’s creation of sets and her sculptural figures, and with the animation process. Berg also composes techno music, which he performs in live concerts. The techno music, he says, intermingles with his film and animation work and vice-versa. He loves the idea of fusing the two, which he sees as an entirely new approach to creativity.

While, in visual terms, Djurberg and Berg’s creations may have something in common with British animator Nick Park’s stop-motion films featuring Wallis & Gromit, they form part of the multi-faceted genre of kinetic art that includes works as diverse as Alexander Calder’s Mobiles and Bridget Riley’s op-art, as well as Breer’s films. Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel (1913) sculpture – the first fine art that moved – was almost certainly influenced by early cinema.

A Journey Through Mud and Confusion with Small Glimpses of Air – the title is Djurberg’s description of her and Berg’s journey so far – at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt was first shown in 2018 at Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The exhibition includes some forty video and sound works from the past two decades. Early works such as My Name is Mud (2003) and Tiger Licking Girl’s Butt (2004) will be screened alongside large-format installations, including The Parade (2011), The Potato (2008) and The Experiment (2009). Their more recent productions: One Need Not Be a House, The Brain Has Corridors (2018) and Dark Side of the Moon (2017), will be on show together with numerous sculptures and the duo’s first virtual-reality work It Will End in Stars (2018).

All works by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg.
All images © Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

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