los-angeles

Nathalie Djurberg

Hammer Museum

Stop-motion animation is generally associated with fairy-tale naïveté, due to its being used, most famously, for kids’ classics like Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970), but, as Nathalie Djurberg shows, this quality is not intrinsic to the medium. In Djurberg’s hands, clay depicts but also distorts, representing the human form for a few seconds before slipping into a series of abject deformations. In such instances, the body seems purely incidental and mimesis beside the point, both of them subordinate to the will of an unruly medium. In fact, the low-tech crudity of stop-motion—its defective modeling and awkward motion, in particular—make it strikingly well adapted to such unmerry themes as bodily mutation, civic disintegration, Oedipal rage, and sexual violence. Exploiting these possibilities with apparent delight, Djurberg cannily plays the qualities of the medium against its own

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