First Look at Nathalie Djurberg at the Prada Foundation


The Rem Koolhaas/OMA-designed building in Seoul that houses the Prada Transformer is an architecture that alters its identity in geometric permutations without changing its essential composition. It’s also an experiment in fluid architecture, albeit a labor-intensive one (it’s re-structured using a crane), and one that gestures toward the intense importance and waste implicit in forward-thinking projects. For the building’s third permutation, the Prada Foundation has commissioned an artist whose treatment of material and the structural conventions of short stories sees similar manipulation. A Berlin-based artist and winner of the 2009 Silver Lion for Best Young Artist at the 53rd Venice Biennale, Nathalie Djurberg’s stop-motion films feature attenuated orchestration in disturbing, elementary, fable-like sequences. Take Badain, 2005, for instance, in which a black slave has group sex with a group of white courtesans: The film ends with the titular character eating a banana. This exhibition is entitled “Turn Into Me,” suggesting an interest in the fluid movement between architectural and organic forms, and a psychological flux of space, characters, and people.

The current exhibition combines two architectural forms—the hexagonal shape used for fashion and the rectangular one used for cinema. There’s not so much outright fashion in the exhibition, although Djurberg has draped the interior surfaces of the Transformer with white felt that ripples and falls, creating a tactile, noir atmosphere. The white felt turns the array of objects Djurberg diplays into items fit for exhibition—or for purchase. The likenesses of a potato, a dolmen, and two small whales stand alongside animated videos, projected, at maximum size, as both windows in and out of the disturbing landscape. Djurberg hasn’t finished the intallation, so we don’t know exactly what will turn into what. The exhibition’s score, by Djurberg’s longtime collaborator Swedish composer Hans Berg, is one constant, albeit an intense and sometimes disturbing one.

Nathalie Djurberg’s “Turn Into Me” is on view August 15–September 13. The Prada Transformer is located at 1-126 Sinmunno-2ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, near the Gyeonghui Palace.