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Siri Berg: TechnoFemme – By Rachel Sommerstein

When Swedish-born artist Siri Berg started making assemblage pieces out of discarded industrial parts…

Siri Berg: TechnoFemme

By Rachel Sommerstein

Siri Berg, Kenzau. Techno. Mouseballs. Mixed media on wood, 12 x 12. 2004

When Swedish-born artist Siri Berg started making assemblage pieces out of discarded industrial parts — technological trash — "everyone was speaking of the damage that we do to the environment." But Berg, whose background is in design, was attracted to the objects’ geometric simplicity. She explored "the other side" of these objects, contrasting their visual straightforwardness with their complex industrial function. In her recent series, a "modular system" of 25 12" x 12" assemblage works partially on view in New York, Berg continued to explore the theme of industrial contrasts, successfully and humorously mingling the ugliness of found objects with the femininity and beauty of her compositions.

The three pieces on view during September at Fall Bloom, curator David Markus’s premier show at Broadway Gallery, are well chosen. The first, Kenza, is constructed of paper and three hard drives placed side by side. Kenza is surprisingly anachronistic, like a 1950s rendering of a computer chip. The piece also passes easily as an iconic relic of Western culture, an antique borrowed from a museum of the future. The title encapsulates Berg’s bridging of femininity and the industrial; Kenza refers to the small metal disks that are used as the base for traditional Japanese flower arrangements.

Techno I’s clean design and sexual playfulness — it looks like a single, perfectly rounded breast — recalls the pen and ink drawings of Eva Hesse. Assembled from a floppy disk, paper, and plywood, the piece resembles a record tucked in its sleeve and the grid-like background reminds the viewer of faded and illegible liner notes. Like Berg’s other work, the piece simultaneously contrasts and merges art (music) and femininity with the "hard" science of technology.

Mouseballs, a clever assemblage made of paper and balls from computer mice, appears as a single, monotone line of music, quarter notes dotted across space. The balls themselves are luminous and mythical — crystal balls in miniature. They appear to glow, a testament to Berg’s adept use of neutrals. What makes this piece especially interesting is that the mouseballs are not an instantly recognizable symbol the way that a disk, microchip, or record might be; even the title is awkward and humorous. Berg successfully illustrates the unfamiliarity — and the ridiculousness — of an everyday object while eliciting the masculine "balls’" feminine qualities.

More and more, Berg finds herself flirting with three-dimensionality. The artist, who has been living and working in SoHo for many years, approaches this evolution organically: "if I start making sculpture," she says, it will be because she just "let it happen."