Nathalie Djurberg looks like a porcelain doll. She makes candy-coloured plasticine puppets who have orgies, who torture each other and suffer alien, abusive relationships. Sometimes they have fun but that involves a tiger licking a girl’s bottom or a father who will eventually be killed by his own daughter. Djurberg, who won the Silver Lion award for best young artist at the Biennale, was the super star of Venice. I went to see her video installation three times and the room was always jam-packed with people drooling over her animations and taking photos of her monstruous sculpted flowers as if their lives depended on it. Not that i acted any differently.
Experimentet is an installation recreating a Garden of Eden from hell. It’s a garden covered with creepy flowers. They are so big they dwarf visitors, their colours and shape are nauseating. Sun never lights up the garden, it’s set in a perpetual crepuscule, in the basement of the Padiglione delle Esposizioni (the ex-Padiglione Italia in the Giardini of the biennale.)
Nathalie Djurberg, Experimentet, 2009. Photo Giorgio Zucchiatti. Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia
A music composed by Hans Berg contributes to the uncomfortable atmosphere. On the screens, 3 merciless and erotic stop-motion animations.
One tells the story of a puppet who battles her own aggressive limbs. The second one features puppets who resort to all sort of brutishness in order to escape a hostile forest environment and the third one follows the sexual foreplay of various puppets, some of them Catholic ecclesiastics. Their sexual and sacrilegious encounters are just pretexts to highlight perverse games of power and submission.
Image from Halvor Bodin’s flickr page
As the catalog of the biennale says: Through these minutely composed sequences of stop-motion animations, Djurberg toys with society’s perceptions of right and wrong, exposing our own innate fears of what we do not understand and illustrating the complexity that arises when we are confronted with these emotions.
Related: Nathalie Djurberg solo show at the Fondazione Prada.
The Biennale di Venezia runs until November 22 in Venice, Italy.