Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg’s new exhibition, Who am I to Judge, or, It Must be Something Delicious, opens on 31st March at Lisson Gallery in London and it looks at animalistic desires and carnal pleasures through the lens of psychology and serious levels of perversion.
Djurberg and Berg are Swedish-born, Berlin-based artists who’ve exhibited at the 53rd Venice Biennale, Milan’s Fondazione Prada, Denmark’s ARos Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Munich’s Sammlung Goetz and New York’s New Museum. They’ve worked together since 2004 and their practice (spanning animation, film, sculpture and sound) plays with eroticism and human nature. A sculptural installation has been made specifically for this show and two of the three of their genius, madcap films are making their first London debut.
Here we present an exclusive premiere of Berg and Djurberg’s new films, Delights of an Undirected Mind (2016), which emphasises infantile eroticism, Freudian impulses and sexual deviance through the lens of a bedtime story. Familiar characters, from Little Red Riding Hood to My Little Pony, cavort in carnivalesque sexual fantasies to dark and comedic effect.
And here we find out more…
Your previous work explores myths, fairy-tales and the darkness within the human psychology. What’s the overarching sentiment in this exhibition?
ND: Sexuality, misguided and not misguided.
HB: I would say a thread through the work is ambiguity, things are never just one thing, there’s always a contradictory layer somewhere that chafes, both in the music and the physical works.
Does living in Berlin – renowned for its hedonism – inspire your work?
ND: I can’t say that it inspires my work directly, but I can see looking back that it has loosened and widened some of my small mindedness and made me more accepting, and much more joyful of other peoples’ expressions.
HB: I also make techno music. Berlin is the world capital for that and it’s inspiring to be able to be part of that. On the other hand, we’re often in Sweden, and when I make music in the countryside there, it has a very profound influence on me too.
What made you go back to claymation?
ND: I stopped because I lost the urge and excitement. I felt that I emptied that field for myself. My interests went elsewhere, it wasn’t really a choice to quit but just a natural development. It was tricky to start again. I had ideas that I resisted as I thought I would never work in that way again. I noticed my own stubbornness in sticking to the idea that I had moved away from that expression. It felt heavy to start, like an arduous and time-consuming process. But the ideas were sweet, obsession-like, and too hard to resist making.
How did you go about creating the accompanying soundtrack?
HB: It’s different making music for the stop-motion animations because you need to relate to the characters and story or situation. I can go with what’s happening, enhance the story, or go against it and create a discrepancy, or say things with the music that the film can’t say. We talked a lot around the content of the film, the themes and layers, while Nathalie was making it, so I had a pretty good idea what direction the music would take. I wanted it to be like a fever dream, or sex fantasies with no target, from a childish or undeveloped mind.
What’s the weirdest dream or nightmare you’ve had recently?
ND: I had a horrific nightmare about this exhibition, but in the dream, the space was enormous. People were building a giant round pyramid platform in brown tiles for the sculptures and they were enormous and waving at the viewers. Carsten Höller was doing a performance where he was playing the harmonica to a fascinated audience. When I panicked and asked about the giant platform and choice of brown tiles, I was told not to have such a bad attitude and apologised. Drowned in shame, I was then advised to build a wall hiding half of the exhibition and only showing one image in the catalogue, and instead told to make use of the hundreds of marching band members that were at my disposal. When I felt the panic come over me, I went in search of tobacco or anything stronger that could make me escape from reality, while the song Love Lifts Us Up (Where We Belong) was playing extremely loud. In the dream I didn’t dislike the song but wondered why I hadn’t been able to make art as wide and big and clear as I perceived the pop song in the dream.
HB: I can’t top that.