‘The Best I Can Do Is Just Catch the Right Ideas’: Preview Art21’s Berlin Episode, Featuring Filmmakers Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg

A production still from the “Berlin” episode of Art in the Twenty-First Century, season 9. of a work by Djurberg and Berg.

©2018 ART21, INC.

Each Wednesday through September, ARTnews will preview a short clip from the ninth season of Art21’s show Art in the Twenty-First Century, which will visit the Bay Area, Johannesburg, and Berlin.

Djurberg molding clay for one of her sculptures, in a production still from the “Berlin” episode of Art in the Twenty-First Century, season 9.

©2018 ART21, INC.

Swedish-born, Berlin-based artists Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg make twisted claymation films, and this week’s preview of the upcoming “Berlin” episode of Art in the Twenty-First Century begins within one of their worlds: a dark bedroom in which a scaly creature writhes on the ground, tearing off layers of its own body as an invisible hand writes out in chalky paint, “Turning into mud and much and worms.” Next, a more recognizably human form rocks gently in a crib as the words “please look away / spare your eyes” appear on a nearby wall.

It’s unclear what exactly is happening in these short excerpts. “I don’t really care about story,” Djuberg says, as she molds clay onto the skeleton of one of her creations. “It’s the situation that interests me.” She and Berg have worked together since 2004 and their films are the result of collaboration and spontaneous inspiration. Djurberg continues, “I don’t write ideas up. I never do, because the one that matters stays anyway—or they come back in another form.” Berg, working on a soundtrack for a video, is seen peering out the window of a studio as leaves rustle. He says of his process of coming up with ideas, “I don’t make them, I’m more like catching them. The best I can do is just catch the right ideas.”


Season 9 of Art in the Twenty-First Century premieres September 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS. “Berlin” airs September 21 at 10 p.m.

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