Gloomy walk-in installation with oversized flower sculptures

Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. The Experiment

For those who did not get the chance to see the Sammlung Goetz’s presentation of Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg’s installation The Experiment at LOVECRAFT, you can now view it online. In addition to a video tour of the exhibition, viewers will also discover installation views, an interview with Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg and the three full-length stop-motion films Greed, Forest and Cave. Some of the content is also available in simple language and sign language.

Portrait of Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg

Q&A with Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg

"Our 70 square meter apartment that contained a small kitchen, bedroom/living room/and music studio and the studio became filled up with sculptures..."

to the interview

Video tour

Video: Dominik Dittberner

The Experiment

In their films and installations, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg take us into a magical world with mysterious creatures, wild animals and exotic plants. But the miraculous mythical creatures play a scary game. Evil lurks everywhere and there is no escape for the protagonists of her stories, who cluelessly fall in into every trap.

Born in Lysekil 1978, the Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg became famous with her stop-motion films in which she brought plasticine and cloth puppets in surreal, humorous but also scary stories to life. Djurberg makes all her work on her own, from creating the figures and the settings to post-production. The music is composed by her artistic partner Hans Berg. Similar to the silent films of the early 20th century, the music is an important design element that drives the plot and accompanies the characters on their way.

The multimedia installation The Experiment, for which Djurberg was awarded with the Silver Lion for the most promising young artist at the 2009 Venice Biennale, consists of a surreal garden with 139 larger-than-life plants, which the artist formed out of various plastics, cardboard and wire. The viewer feels like Alice in Wonderland as he wanders past wide-open, wet shiny calyx and a thicket of vines, which stretch their sticky leaves at him.

With Greed, Forest and Cave, in the midst of this miraculous plant world, three videos are presented that arouse ambivalent feelings of fascination and disgust, curiosity and revulsion. Because the protagonists in the films are dolls and not actual people, they allow an unsparing depiction of socially repressed issues, such as child abuse, sadism, bestiality and excessive violence.

Nathalie Djurberg’s & Hans Berg's movies are disturbing because they are formally based on childish clay figures, but address deep-seated trauma and mental deformities. What kind of person might write such a harsh, unbearable stories on the naked bodies of these cute creatures from the seemingly safe world of children? "It is a way to access these concerns," explains Djurberg her motivation: “One explores how far one can go, how far it relates to or upsets oneself. I was surprised when I first noticed that, with one of my animations, I could actually sympathize with the impatience of the killer and rapist, surprised that I was indignant that the female victim gives me trouble, thereby making everything much worse for herself. I have to play all the roles myself, both the perpetrator and the victim. The clash between these two has always aroused my interest."

Greed, Forest and Cave

In the video Greed three lustful church dignitaries carry out their nefarious deeds with a naked, defenseless woman who is at their mercy. The real martyrdom begins for her, however, after she flees to a fellow woman. Under the influence of the clergy, the women torture each other with ever worsening atrocities.

A recurring element in Djurberg’s films are often pet-like creatures, which let their animal instincts run wild. However, in Forest, the second part of the trilogy, there are plants. In this film, a young woman and her companion get lost in a dark enchanted forest. Climber plants reach for them, tear off their clothes and, finally, the limbs from their body.

The enemy is not always the other, but is also part people themselves. In Cave, the third video in the multimedia installation The Experiment, a woman is trapped in a cave and entangled in an absurd battle with herself, which ends in merciless self-destruction. The boundaries between victims and perpetrators here seem to dissolve permanently.

Sammlung Goetz x LOVECRAFT

Lovecraft in the former Kaufhof at Stachus was considered one of the most prominent sites for temporary use projects in Munich. Both its central location between the Karlstor and the main train station and its building concept developed by the entrepreneur and organizer Michi Kern were promising. As the Sammlung Goetz is currently without its own exhibition space due to ongoing renovation measures in its building in Oberföhring, it decided to initially use Lovecraft’s 2,000 square-meters basement as an exhibition space for two years.

Its opening presentation in the space was The Experiment, a multimedia installation by the artist duo Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg. The work consists of a surreal garden with more than a hundred larger-than-life plants, in which three stop-motion films had been on view. The presentation also was to include a varied accompanying program including discussions, guided tours, workshops as well as barrier-free digital offers and communication formats. Unfortunately, after the opening weekend, Lovecraft was closed once again because of permit issues. The final end of the project was announced at the beginning of December.

 “We regret that Lovecraft cannot continue as planned after its dynamic start. We found the mixed concept developed by Michi Kern and his team for the former Kaufhof at Stachus very inspiring and hoped to appeal to new groups of visitors there and incite their enthusiasm for contemporary art,” commented Katharina Vossenkuhl, director of the Sammlung Goetz.

Discover more full lenght films by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

in the Sammlung Online