Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Bang Your Little Drums, 2012. Clay animation, digital video (color, sound; 10:41 minutes). Promised gift of Beth and Richard Marcus. © Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg
The artist Nathalie Djurberg and musician/composer Hans Berg frequently collaborate on projects that span the cinematic, the sculptural, and the performative to explore the deepest human emotions—desire, compassion, fear, love, pain, regret, and grief. The collaborators’ immersive sensorial environments are a mélange of claymation projections and sculptures by Djurberg and electronic soundscapes by Berg. As in dark folktales, visitors enter fictive worlds populated by human and animal archetypes whose sexual discovery, aggression, vulnerability, and pain expose the fragile and harsh realities of the world. Djurberg’s characters ignore and defy unwritten laws of social conduct with consequences that are simultaneously absurd, humorous, and horrific.
Bang Your Little Drums begins by presenting phrases like “stomp your little feet, snap your little finger” written in Day-Glo colors against a black background. The accompanying musical track seems to take a cue from the text; as the phrases describing banal actions repeat, it rises to orchestral heights. There is no unified narrative, but threads that seem to ravel and unravel: a chained brown bear scoops ice cream, a man unpeels a giant banana, a young boy emerges from a cocoon. The vignettes suggest a transformation and transfiguration of characters that hinges on the grotesque and humorous.
This video enriches the ICA/Boston’s small collection of moving-image works and distinguishes itself as the only piece using claymation as a technique. The addition of this work to the museum’s collection marks the artists’ 2014 exhibition at the ICA.