Thursday, 29 December 2011

'A World of Glass' by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg

Verdict: Go see it
Where: Camden Arts Centre, Finchley
When: 7 October 2011 – 8 January 2012

What is it? Two rooms with two claymation films displayed at either end, with accompanying music, and glass objects set out on tables in the middle of the room.

What did I think? Claymation is always thought of as a child's medium (think Morph or Wallace and Gromit) but it's used to explore distinctively adult themes in this installation.

The videos all feature claymation animals and three out of the four films also feature nude humans in a macabre dance of sensuality and violence. The first two videos feature animals savagely attacking nude women and the rough medium of claymation adds to the brutality of the imagery. The words that appear on screen suggest that what we are witnessing is the projection and anthropomorphism (does that work for animals) of a lovers tiff, with the human figures often pleading with and assuaging the animals.

The glass objects in the rooms are just replicas of those that appear in the videos and only supplement the exhibition rather than act as an integral part of it.

The real stand out of this exhibit is the music by Hans Berg that truly ratchets up the tension when the videos are reaching a crescendo. Without it the videos would not come across anywhere near as powerful or emotive as they do with the music.

The final video is arguably the most powerful as it is of a bull in a glass shop that accidentally breaks some glass pieces, then proceeds to destroy the entire stock and finally slice off its flesh with the glass. It's a brilliant, if hyperbolic, manifestation of suffering.

The videos may not be to everyone's tastes and they do lack in subtlety but it's worth seeing (or hearing) for the dramatic music alone.

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