Mixing animation, sculpture and sound, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg create psychologically charged scenarios dealing with human and animalistic desires. Since 2001, Djurberg has developed a distinctive style of filmmaking, using clay animation to dramatise the basest of natural instincts, from fear, revenge and greed to submission and lust. Her partner, the musician and composer Hans Berg, conjures up the atmospheric sound effects and scores the hypnotic music for Djurberg’s animations and installations.
First shown at the ARoS Museum in Aarhus, Denmark in October 2015, A Thief Caught in the Act comprises seven wooden tables and a set of colourful sculptures. Whacky birds with bright feathers perch atop the tables, caught in the beam of a powerful spotlight in the act of stealing equally colourful pills.
The light goes on and off at specific intervals, lighting up the birds as if by police searchlight, the pills suggesting drugs or pharmaceutical relief. The birds' expressions of fear, guilt and surprise become conspicuous, just as the bright light enhances the dream-like colour of their plumage.
Captivating and highly symbolic, the installation encompasses frequent threads in the artists’ practice. The sculptures act as part objects, part puppets – all surrogates for discovering hidden emotions. Djurberg states, “I like working with birds expressively; they are so easy to mould into what you want them to be. They can just be shapes and colours, or large personalities, if so desired.” The blinking spotlight too a common theme in the artists’ practice, exploring how light can affect perception.
The work will be on view at Booth 3E13 as part of Art Basel in Hong Kong's 2016 'Encounters' sector, a programme dedicated to presenting large-scale sculpture and installation works by leading artists from around the world.