NATHALIE DJURBERG & HANS BERG
A Journey through Mud and Confusion with small Glimpses of Air
Curated by Lena Essling and Gianfranco Maraniello
"Cheer up, yes you are weak and yes life is hard, yes you are lowlives, sinners and nobodies, despised and neglected and misunderstood. You boast and lie and cheat and make up stories in your head distorting every experience. It’s like a journey through mud and confusion with small glimpses of air. But ah, those glimpses, those wonderful clean uncompromised breaths with no judgement, that hold all the love for those despicable, wrong doing, faultfinding others and of your own wretched, filthy self, that self that didn’t dare to enter the house, that didn’t dare to sit in the chair, that didn’t dare to taste the porridge, that bitter porridge, that too hot porridge, that sweet tasting porridge. Yes you are lost, yes you are drowning in coverups and excuses, your feet sink deep in the mud, and you are fighting and struggling. You drag those muddy shoes in the room, and yes you are welcome, you always were, this is your home, your temple, this is all for you. This is a celebration."
Nathalie Djuerbeng e Hans Berg
The exhibition that the Mart in Rovereto, together with the Modern Museet in Stockholm and in association with the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, is devoting to Swedish Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg starts with this introductory text.
Once they have walked through the marquee that conceals the entrance, visitors are catapulted into dreamlike environments inhabited by outlandish characters: people, animals and plants interpreting the drives and contradictions of the human mind. As in the altered and symbolic realities of fairytales, fantastic, grotesque beings represent vices, virtues, metaphors, messages and myths. Djurberg and Berg’s landscapes of the absurd are cutting allegories of contemporary society, with its rituals, weaknesses, most visceral sensations. In these magical and disquieting worlds, as in popular folktales, the analysis is not judgemental, but can be outrageous.
Surreal, the art of Djurberg and Berg tells of us, without condemnation poised between humour and obscurity, urging the ungluing of repulsion and attraction, the exhibition describes an inner journey, an experiment to decipher existence, “the attempt of an ego to find its way out of itself”, as the artists declare.
Djurberg and Berg explore pre-constituted conventions and norms, undermining the certainties that lie at the base of today's social pact, overturning clichés, hierarchies of power and gender roles. Between delirious landscapes and whirling rhythms, the pre-packaged truths concerning the supremacy of mankind over nature or of men over women, as well as the philosophical confines of time and space, are all subverted. Lightened by an underlying irony, the collapse of paradigms is frightening and fascinating. In the seductive comfort zones of fantasy, the works unleash extreme, wide-ranging emotions, digging into the deepest darkness and spiralling towards the craziest euphoria. Innocence and shame, desire and repugnance, attraction and repulsion.
The artists' invitation to visitors is: “Lose your way”, becoming disorientated through objects, sounds, images in movement and hypnotic music. The exhibition develops through enigmatic labyrinths of the mind and archetypal landscapes: woods, caves, homes become psychological spaces that nourish our disquiet.
Builders of universes, Djurberg and Berg also play with oxymorons in the material execution of their work. The classical techniques of art - sculpture, painting, drawing, music - encounter the devices of the present. Fun and irreverent, the Swedish duo’s large installations are figurative and abstract, material and impalpable: three-dimensional creatures and objects reside inside and outside stop-motion films, between animation, sound art and virtual reality.
© Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg / Bildupphovsrätt 2018
Exhibition views photos by Mart, Jacopo Salvi