Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nathalie Djurberg is most known for her clay sculptures and claymation videos. They are usually about maternity or sexuality and are often very graphic and grotesque, contrasting the naive and playful "familiar language" medium of claymation. The characters are usually women (actually her work has a marked absence of the male figure at all) or animals, depicted as dripping fleshy abject creatures. 
The success of the work, for me, lies mostly in the construction of characters and set--as individual objects and figures they evoke a visceral reaction, they are lumpy and disgusting and highly colorful. The physicality of the characters seems to convey the most meaning; their features are full of gross personality and emotion, also their construction is apparent--the seams are shown, literally. The medium of claymation also echoes this--it is animated very choppy (actually a little too choppy, a weakness to her work in my opinion, the situation of these characters in their world is very tenuous and I am a little bit disappointed viewing a video after shown the stills), showing you the seams, the frame rate, and I think this corresponds with the subject matter and its gross unapologetic frankness. She "strips away the pretenses and eliminates politeness," is disarming given the unassuming medium and whimsical parts of the aesthetic. The dialogue (in speech bubbles and text) is also funny in its frankness: "What is that?" "is it dirt?" "maybe it's poop?" "Well I'm not scared of poop." "But in such huge amounts.", "Tiger licking girls butt."
Nathalie's making most of this work in the 2000s. Parkett talks about her as following in the vein of artists like Niki de Saint Phalle's big bodied sculptures that talked about the role of women, but Nathalie's work has less to do about women in relation to men than being a grotesque, earnest want to talk about the basest, animalistic parts of existence and emotion. It also seems to me to follow in the vein of grossly honest 90s mainstream (not "high art") cartoons like Ren and Stimpy.

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