Acclaimed Swedish Artist’s Largest U.S. Exhibition to Date Premieres an Unnerving Menagerie of Sculptures and Animated Films
Minneapolis, MN, August 11, 2011— Swedish-born artist Nathalie Djurberg (b. 1978) has proven herself a singular talent of her generation, using hand-crafted sculptures and provocative animated films to shed light on humanity’s repressed fears and desires. The Walker Art Center premieres her latest installation in The Parade: Nathalie Djurberg with Music by Hans Berg, running September 8 through December 31, 2011.
After its Minneapolis presentation, this Walker touring exhibition will travel to the New Museum in New York (May 11, 2012 through July 8, 2012) and to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco (October 16, 2012 through January 27, 2013).
Direct from the artist’s Berlin studio, The Parade is Djurberg’s most ambitious multimedia installation to date. Best known for her immersive installations that combine sculpture and animated film, Djurberg presents nightmarish, yet wry allegories of human behavior and social taboo. The faux-naïve visual style of her films plays against their themes of revenge, brutality, anxiety, and dark sexuality. Djurberg’s characters act out brutal, often sadistic scenarios, yet they retain a sense of humanity: violence is presented alongside remorse, cruel urges coexist with maternal tendencies, and the roles of perpetrator and victim become intertwined.
For The Parade, the artist has recently begun to explore the natural history of birds—their evolution and physiology, their rituals of mating, and the social phenomenon of flocking—as source material. Including 83 freestanding, handmade bird sculptures constructed of metal, foam, clay, hand-painted fabrics, and other materials, the installation will also present five stop-motion animated films, set to music and sound effects by her longtime collaborator, Hans Berg. Featuring birds, human characters, and other animals, these new films further explore the interplay of brutality and guilt at the heart of Djurberg’s work. In one film, three peasant women attack and then remorsefully comfort a defeathered bird as they prepare a boiling pot of soup; in another, two men in bird masks offer assurances of benign intent while torturing a nude purple figure lying on the floor. Taken together, Djurberg’s films and her ceremonial throng of birds reveal the artist’s ongoing interest in human psychology and animal behavior, transgression and instinct. The work also develops Djurberg’s interest in all modes of transformation and masquerade—personas shift from one film to the next, animals don masks to impersonate others, and emotions are reduced to a play of facial expressions.
Projected images and sculptures will share the exhibition space in a densely-packed presentation of this new body of work. “Djurberg’s sculptures are intricately handmade,” says co-curator Eric Crosby. “Their layered surfaces belie the psychological depth of her films, which can sometimes be quite difficult to watch for their abusive scenarios. They nevertheless speak to our basest instincts as social creatures.”
The thematic concerns of Djurberg’s menacing flock of birds also cross over to her films. As co-curator Dean Otto explains, “Each film tackles conflicting intentions. There is an innate impulse to harm, yet the mind encourages restraint. It’s the tension between these forces that give the films their strength,” says co-curator Dean Otto.
About the Artists
Nathalie Djurberg was born in 1978 in Lysekil, Sweden. She received her MFA from Malmö Art Academy in Sweden in 2002, and since that time she has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions around the world to much acclaim. Most notably, in 2009 she presented her installation The Experiment in the exhibition Making Worlds at the 53rd Venice Biennale, for which she was awarded the prestigious Silver Lion for a Promising Young Artist. Her most recent exhibition Snakes know it’s yoga, which premiered at Galleria Giò Marconi in Milan (2010), has traveled to Kestnergesellschaft in Hannover and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. In America, she has had solo exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum, Seattle (2009) and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2008). Her work resides in the collections of the Hammer Museum; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; among others. She is represented by Zach Feuer Gallery in New York and Galleria Giò Marconi in Milan. She currently lives and works in Berlin with Hans Berg.
Hans Berg was born in Rättvik, Sweden in 1978. He is a Swedish, Berlin-based music producer who makes techno and house music in addition to the music for the work of Nathalie Djurberg. Apart from a handful of music courses, Hans is mostly self taught. He began playing the drums in several punk and rock bands at the age of 14. A year later, he purchased his first synthesizer and sampler and started producing electronic music, which he has made ever since. Berg met Djurberg in Berlin in 2004. Since then, he has composed the music for all Djurberg’s films and installations and his music has been presented together with her work in their exhibitions.
About the Exhibition Curators
Since joining the Walker Art Center in 2009 as curatorial assistant in visual arts, Eric Crosby has organized the group exhibition A Shot in the Dark, a permanent collection installation that investigates forms of material intuition, and Tacita Dean: Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS… (six performances, six films), a film installation that mines the legacy of choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage. He is currently co-curating a series of artists’ films at the Walker with Dean Otto. He is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Dean Otto, associate curator of film/video at the Walker, has been active in film and video programming since 1984. Since joining the Walker’s film program in 1995, he has organized the 19-part Rainer Werner Fassbinder film series, managed the international tour of the series Magnetic North at 17 sites, and coordinated the residencies of Arthur Dong, Cheryl Dunye, Christian Marclay, and Craig Baldwin. For the past four years he has co-curated Expanding the Frame, a Walker series of experimental and interdisciplinary work that has introduced audiences to Bruce McClure, Daniel Barrow, Ben Russell, and many others.
A fully illustrated catalogue, designed by the Walker’s award-winning design studio and featuring texts by exhibition curators Eric Crosby and Dean Otto, will accompany the exhibition.
Opening Day Talk: Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg
September 8, 7:00 pm, Walker Cinema
Following a screening of their short films, Djurberg and Berg will discuss their work with exhibition curators Eric Crosby and Dean Otto. Stick around to enjoy a complimentary beverage from the Garden Café.
Mack Lectures are made possible by generous support from Aaron and Carol Mack.
Gallery Talk with Curators Eric Crosby and Dean Otto
Thursday, October 6, 6:30 pm, Cargill Lounge
View the exhibition and join the curators for a discussion about the work and their collaboration.
Target Free Thursday Nights sponsored by Target
The Parade: Nathalie Djurberg with Music by Hans Berg is organized by the Walker Art Center and is made possible by generous support from Miriam and Erwin Kelen. Additional support is provided by Iaspis, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Artists.