press release

Nathalie Djurberg’s animated worlds and Hans Berg’s electronic music conjure up scenes with a surrealistic approach. This summer, Moderna Museet features the internationally renowned duo’s stop motion films and spatial installations along with an entirely new VR piece. The exhibition describes an inner journey, an attempt to make existence more comprehensible in a flow of impulses and impressions.

Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg create animated worlds out of objects, music and moving images – dreamlike realities to immerse yourself in. Their playfully-told fables blend humour with darkness, suspending any moral laws of gravity. Their intense chamber pieces enact fragments of memories repressed between innocence and shame, or feverish daydreams of role play and desire. They topple accepted truths about man’s supremacy in nature and our habitual understanding of remembrance, time and space. Embedded in these works is a burlesque social critique that – sometimes literally – undresses the men of power, given hierarchies and social norms.

“There is an element of seduction in the encounter with the works of Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg. Just as we lower our guard, the tension heightens, and you are torn from comfortable contemplation. These works capture extreme states – our deepest darkness and greatest euphoria. They exhibit a playful approach to both desire and revulsion in a grotesque tradition that the surrealists also sourced,” says Lena Essling, curator.

This is the artists’ largest exhibition for more than a decade on the international art scene. They have described it as an inner journey through chaos and confusion. Some archetypal settings recur in the works: the dark forest, the illuminated stage, the mysterious cave and the intimate chamber. Confined spaces where painful or droll situations are enacted between characters who are often close to one another. The journey meanders through dark underworlds, up into light and air, only to delve back down into the shadows – through wallpapered rooms and underbrush, coiling music loops and wormholes in time.

The presentation features immersive installations with music and videos, including The Parade and The Experiment, and some 20 independent moving image works. Several entirely new works made for the exhibition will also be shown – both videos and sculptures, and the artists’ first VR piece. The exhibition expands into a couple of rooms with iconic works and rarely-shown pieces from the Moderna Museet collection of surrealism and Dada, selected by the curator Jo Widoff. Works created in another era, which nevertheless have similarities in approach and strategy.

Nathalie Djurberg sees herself primarily as a painter but creates videos with stop motion animation – a laborious technique that requires long periods of total concentration. The work is done in close dialogue with Hans Berg, whose music adds layers of moods and meanings. Their collaboration is intuitive, with no storyboards or written scripts. The work is profoundly original, with many links to other performing arts, performance art, painting and film.

Nathalie Djurberg (b. 1978) and Hans Berg (b. 1978) are based in Berlin. Over the past decade, they have been prominent on the international art scene and their works have been shown at the Venice Biennale, the New Museum in New York, and the 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

A catalogue is published in conjunction with the exhibition in association with Hatje Cantz, with new essays by Lena Essling, curator at Moderna Museet; Massimiliano Gioni, artistic director of The New Museum, New York; Patricia MacCormack, film theoretician, Cambridge; and David Toop, musician and writer, London.

The exhibition is produced by Moderna Museet in collaboration with MART – Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto in autumn 2018, and Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt in spring 2019.

The exhibition is sponsored by Mannheimer Swartling.