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September 9-12, 2021   Javits Center

Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg

This Is Heaven

2019
Presented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Location: Adjacent to Champagne Lounge
Pier 94
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Curator's Statement

This Is Heaven is an immersive, surreal environment comprised of a video projection and group of sculptures of strangely prehistoric-looking birds feeding on verdant tropical flowers by collaborative duo Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg. The centerpiece is a stop-motion animation done in the artists’ now signature style with a haunting electronic score. Featuring dark humor and sense of the grotesque, the work explores subliminal human impulses, such as lust and greed, to explore the tensions between ideas about morality and the common good and society’s pre-occupation with individuality, luxury, and pleasure. This Is Heaven features a kingly ruler on a gold motorcycle obsessed with money and treasure at the expense of all that surrounds him. Djurberg and Berg’s narratives are as engrossing as they are repugnant, revealing the ways in which our culture’s focus on personal achievement and success creates monstrosities of unhinged id and the drive for self-satisfaction.

About the Artist

Through sculpture, stop-motion film, sound and immersive installations Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg develop surreal narratives that investigate themes of lust, greed, exploitation and fear with a hint of the absurd. Working in collaboration for over a decade, Djurberg and Berg create scenes that are simultaneously violent and erotic, enticing and whimsical.

Within these childlike fantasies, protagonists and antagonists are interchangeable and sociological foundations morph and dissolve. A range of surrogates – fairytale characters, animals, post-humans and stereotypes act out often violent or sexual offenses digging into the darker side of the human unconscious.

Working in an intuitive and curious mode, uninhibited by traditional methods of art making, Djurberg laboriously handcrafts elaborate environments and characters out of clay, plasticene, foam, wire, fabric and paint resulting in a gummy, flamboyant aesthetic. The visceral textures conveyed in Djurbergs’ figures further elaborate the emotions provoked by their misdemeanors.

Berg, a musician and composer, adds yet another layer of emotional depth through sound. With his compositions, drama is either reinforced or awkwardly highlighted by contrasting the portrayed scene.

Presenting familiar icons in perplexing circumstances forces us to consider our own biases, fears and fantasies and shines a light on the darkness our epoch aims to hide. Through their lens, we are forced to reckon with what it means to feel pleasure or pain and what it is to be male or female, victim or aggressor, mother or daughter.

Nathalie Djurberg was born in 1978 in Lysekil, Sweden. She studied art at Folkuniversitetet and Hovedskous Art School in Gothenburg, Sweden before earning her MFA from Malmö Art Academy in 2002. Hans Berg was born in 1978 in Rättvik, Sweden and is a self-taught musician, who began playing the drums at age fourteen. Djurberg and Berg met in Berlin in 2004 and have been working together ever since.

The artists’ collaborations have been exhibited widely around the world. In 2009, Djurberg & Berg presented their installation The Experiment at the 53rd Venice Biennial "Making Worlds" curated by Daniel Birnbaum where they were awarded the Silver Lion for Best Emerging Artists.

Other important solo presentations include Kunsthalle Winterhur, Switzerland (2007); Fondazione Prada, Milan (2008); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2008); OMA Prada Transformer, Seoul (2009); Natural History Museum, Basel (2010); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2011); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2011); Camden Arts Center, London (2011); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, New Museum, New York (2012); ‘The Black Pot’, Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, Russia (2013); ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark (2015); Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany (2015); Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2016); Stavanger Art Museum (MUST), Norway (2017) among others.

Djurberg and Berg’s work has been included in group exhibitions at Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst/Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent, Belgium (2010); Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland, (2012); Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria (2013); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2015; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York, (2015); Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf, Germany (2017); to name a few.

The artists works are represented in the collections of Fondazione Prada, Milan; Goetz Collection, Munich; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Kunsthaus Züruch, Zürich; and Whitechapel, London, among others.