Wednesday, 20 July 2011

WEEK 1- Nathalie Djurberg's 'Claymations'.

Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg's intricately constructed claymation films are both terrifyingly disturbing and artlessly sweet. The new works created for the Venice Biennale explore a surrealistic Garden of Eden in which all that is natural goes awry.
She exposes the innate fear of what is not understood and confronts viewers with the complexity of emotions. Nathalie Djurberg was awarded the silver lion for a promising young artist at the Venice Art Biennale 09.

Research Djurberg's work in order to answer the following questions;
1. What do you understand by the word 'claymation'?
Claymation to me is Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride. These are what I think of when I hear the term. “Claymation is the generalized term for clay animation, a form of stop animation using clay” (“What is Claymation,” 03-11). Claymation is when clay sculpted models/figurines/objects are manipulated to produce animated movie results, often using freeze frame filming techniques to create stop motion animation. Kids TV shows often have claymation e.g. Pingu and Bob the Builder.

2. What is meant by the term 'surrealistic Garden of Eden' and 'all that is natural goes awry'?
In Djurberg’s work, it is a dreamlike setting that is surreal and not of this world. A perfect place as the Garden of Eden but gone wrong and turned dark and dangerous. It is a dystopian Eden; the direct opposite of what is pictured as the peaceful, heavenly Garden of Eden. "[It] 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 colous and shape are nauseating. Sun never lights up the garden, [that is] set in a perpetual crepuscule, in the Basement of the Padiglione delle Esposizioni" (Regine, 2009). The garden is in shadows and darkness, that appears haunted almost as if the plants are trapped, not quite alive, not quite dead. It gives a scary eerie feeling to the display of her works creating mixed opinions being either truly weird or inventive and fascinating.

3. What are the 'complexity of emotions' that Djurberg confronts us with?
The emotions she confronts us with are varied and differ between person to person. While i may find them creepy and dark, slightly sick, others might find them interesting and love the dark qualities to them. "Djurberg toys with society;s perceptions of right and wrong, exposing our own innate fears of what we do no tunderstand and illustrating the complexity that arises when we are confronted with these emotions" (Regine 2009). "Her animatinos show human beings at their most crass, phychopath, sadistic and often disarming behavious. The videos address a fair amount of intense issues such as violence, sexuality, sadism, cruelty, death adn brutality" (Regine, 2008). The reaction her films cause in the viewer makes us question whether we do or do not like the clay models and what they are doing in the video or think it’s right/wrong. The opinions towards the disturbing characters in her films could be taken as well crafted or twisted, malformed and not natural.  Djurberg says she does art “for the stuff you don’t dare talk about” (Yablonsky, 2010). It is an outlet for emotions and opinions that could not be otherwise expressed.

4. How does Djurberg play with the ideas of children's stories, and innocence in some of her work?
Djurberg’s work’s play with ideas from children’s stories sharing similar archetypical themes and traditional roles such as good , bad, and the kind helper (Ryberg, 2005). However there comes a point when her work heads away from serene child like stories and turn towards “scary x-rated fantas[ies] without any moral[s] (Ryberg, 2005). The characters in her work may be innocent and vulnerable being small, thin and naked but this is turned against them making them easy prey for the sexual elements forced upon them by other larger more solid looking characters. The characters have big wide eyes as children’s story characters do which adds to their sad qualities with the associations as innocent, naive characters are turned into disturbing creatures corrupted.

5. There is a current fascination by some designers with turning the innocent and sweet into something disturbing. Why do you think this has come about?
Using the brightly coloured, seemingly innocent stop-action claymation animation medium enables Djurberg to show the vast change suddenly to the main characters whom are usually girls or young women who become “engaged in various kinds of vileness: from mild deception, friendly torture and oddly benign bestiality to murder and mayhem” (Smith, 2006). I think people remember the weird, disturbing and controversial better and the artist can get more attention and acknowledgement this way. Djurberg says her ideas in the works “demand attention” and do not easily bore her which can be said for her audience as well (Yarblonsky, 2010).  As humans we always worry about the worst possible situations and outcomes that could occur which Djurberg shows. Pushing the boundaries transforming the good into the bad makes a statement about the artists and with the controversy surrounding reception of it makes them stand out from other artist of the animation field.

6. In your opinion, why do you think Djurberg's work is so interesting that it was chosen for the Venice Biennale?
It is controversial and people have strong opinions towards it. It is bizarre which creates interest as it is not the usual art seen. It is shocking as animation as such i used often in children’s shows like bob the builder which are happy and cheerful whereas Djurberg’s works are dark and creepy, confronting what needs to be confronted.

7. Add some of your own personal comments on her work.
I think Djurberg’s work is a little creepy. They appear like Tim Burton’s characters but have a different sense to them which comes from the situations they are in and events that occur to them. However,  I love the use of claymation and attention to individual movements as I would not have the dedication or knowledge to make a stop motion movie myself.

·         Regine. (2008, April 25th). Nathalie Djurberg solo show at the Fondazione Prada.
·         Regine. (2009, October 26). Venice Biennale: Nathalie Djurberg.
·         Ryberg, H. (2005). Distributing clay animation:Films by Nathalie Djurberg.
·         Smith, R. (2006, May 19th). Art in Review: Nathalie Djurberg.
·         What is Claymation? (2003-2011).


  1. I enjoyed your blog and the way you linked your discussion to Tim Burton's claymations and your prior experience of the medium. The quote you found from Djurberg was interesting as well , I was intrigued to hear that she specifically stated that her aim was to make art "for the stuff you don’t dare talk about” as this clarifies the artist's position in light of all the media out there about her work. It is great that the majority of the media dialogue agrees with her aims as an artist. I guess that this is a bonus achieved through working in such an explicit manner,as you mention in your point regarding the way in which we better remember things that disturb us than those that don't.

  2. I really liked reading your post here. I think that you bought up many relevant points; in your opinion when you say that where some people might enjoy the dark, dangerous feel of her work, it makes you feel slightly sick. I feel the same of her work, though it is undeniably good.

  3. Yes! It is controversial and can make a provoking debate to some people, therefore her shocking animation was chosen for the Venice Biennale. Her works are dark and scary me. It broke the image of claymation which is in warm and soft emotion. You said it is bizarre; your expression is exactly the same as my view. I know her work has value as art and I respect her natively, creative mind but I wouldn’t hide my uncomfortable feeling. In her work at the Venice Biennale, the event seems necessary at a highly topic, it doesn’t depend on people doesn’t like or like. In the name of art to express the intensity is gradually getting stronger.