© Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg/VG BILD-KUNST Bonn, video tour: Dominik Dittberner

The Experiment

Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

  • Year 2009
  • Material/Technique Multimedia installation with 3-channel video projection (color, sound) 4:3
  • Dimensions Variable
  • Length The Experiment (Cave) 6'93''
    The Experiment (Forest) 7'27''
    The Experiment (Greed) 10'45''
  • Category Media Art
  • Collection Sammlung Goetz, München

In her films and installations, Nathalie Djurberg takes us into a magical world with mysterious creatures, wild animals and exotic plants. But the miraculous mythical creatures play a scary game. Evil lurks everywhere and there is no escape for the protagonists of her stories, who cluelessly fall in into every trap.

Born in Lysekil 1978, the Swedish artist became famous with her stop-motion films in which she brought plasticine and cloth puppets in surreal, humorous but also scary stories to life. Djurberg makes all her work on her own, from creating the figures and the settings to post-production. Only the music is written by another, her artistic partner Hans Berg. Similar to the silent films of the early 20th century, the music is an important design element that drives the plot and accompanies the characters on their way.

For the multimedia installation The Experiment Djurberg was awarded with the Silver Lion for the most promising young artist at the 2009 Venice Biennale. The work consists of a surreal garden with 139 larger-than-life plants, which the artist formed out of various plastics, cardboard and wire. The viewer feels like Alice in Wonderland as he wanders past wide-open, wet shiny calyx and a thicket of vines, which stretch their sticky leaves at him.

With Greed, Forest and Cave, in the midst of this miraculous plant world, three videos are presented that arouse ambivalent feelings of fascination and disgust, curiosity and revulsion. Because the protagonists in Djurberg’s films are dolls and not actual people, they allow an unsparing depiction of socially repressed issues, such as child abuse, sadism, bestiality and excessive violence.

Djurberg’s movies are disturbing because they are formally based on childish clay figures, but address deep-seated trauma and mental deformities. What kind of person might write such a harsh, unbearable stories on the naked bodies of these cute creatures from the seemingly safe world of children? "It is a way to access these concerns," explains Djurberg her motivation: “One explores how far one can go, how far it relates to or upsets oneself. I was surprised when I first noticed that, with one of my animations, I could actually sympathize with the impatience of the killer and rapist, surprised that I was indignant that the female victim gives me trouble, thereby making everything much worse for herself. I have to play all the roles myself, both the perpetrator and the victim. The clash between these two has always aroused my interest."


In the video Greed three lustful church dignitaries carry out their nefarious deeds with a naked, defenseless woman who is at their mercy. The real martyrdom begins for her, however, after she flees to a fellow woman. Under the influence of the clergy, the women torture each other with ever worsening atrocities.


A recurring element in Djurberg’s films are often pet-like creatures, which let their animal instincts run wild. However, in Forest, the second part of the trilogy, there are plants. In this film, a young woman and her companion get lost in a dark enchanted forest. Climber plants reach for them, tear off their clothes and, finally, the limbs from their body.


The enemy is not always the other, but is also part people themselves. In Cave, the third video in the multimedia installation The Experiment, a woman is trapped in a cave and entangled in an absurd battle with herself, which ends in merciless self-destruction. The boundaries between victims and perpetrators here seem to dissolve permanently.

Q&A with Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg

Portrait of Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg

"Our 70 square meter apartment that contained a small kitchen, bedroom/living room/and music studio and the studio became filled up with sculptures..."

to the interview

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