Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg: A World of Glass: Camden Arts Centre
Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg has filled Galleries One and Two with luminous, glass-like objects and four new animated films. The installation is immersed in a syncronised soundscape composed by her collaborator Hans Berg, featuring rhythmic percussion and sounds of tinkling glass that evoke a strange and compelling atmosphere.
Djurberg creates her films with a technique referred to as ‘claymation’. At the Venice Biennale in 2009, she embedded the animations amongst a sprawling jungle of life-sized sculptures immersing the viewer within the immediate materiality of the images depicted on screen. Similarly, A World of Glass displays the luminous sculptures that appear in the films, made from polyurethene – a material that shares the apparent fragility and elegance of glass.
The crude materiality of the animations seems playful but the scenarios enacted are often disturbing, uncovering taboos or difficult aspects of the human condition such as vulnerability, desire and suffering. The four new films - My body is a house of glass; Monster; Didn’t you know I’m made of butter?; and I’m a wild animal – address a shared theme of sexual discovery, exploring the untamed forces that drive desire and the fragile, precarious nature of this rite-of-passage. The beguiling beauty of the installation contrasts with scenes of wounded flesh or emotional distress, drawing out the connection between desire and suffering, a theme explored by Bataille when he discussed the transgression of taboos in relation to the sometimes violent drives of sexuality. The dark and foreboding atmosphere of the installation also links Djurberg’s work to the subversive imagination of Goya.