Torbjørn Rødland Fifth Honeymoon Torbjørn Rødland’s Festival Exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall will consist exclusively of new works, and as such will represent a new chapter in his ongoing exploration of the complexity of photography.

Opening: 24. 5. 13:00

Plattform: 26. 5. 14:00 Torbjørn Rødland

Rødland himself describes the new works in a straightforward and matter-of-fact way: “The exhibition will feature colour photographs of faces, bodies and tabletop-arranged objects as well as double exposures in black and white, mainly photographed in Los Angeles”. The description is a precise summing-up of the artist’s visual vocabulary, but hardly covers the ambivalent experience to which the photographs give rise. In addition to portraits, the human body is just as often represented by individual body parts such as hands, feet, ankles, knees and faces — or it appears as staged, typologized “characters” captured in the midst of a telling moment. The isolated body parts are treated in the same constructed way as the selection of objects and surfaces encountered in other pictures.

The experience of Rødland’s controlled studio compositions is often by way of contradictory concepts; strange, repellent, nasty, perverted and unpleasant; but at the same time immediately recognizable, seductively beautiful, erotic and attractive. This complexity is perhaps the most defining feature of Rødland’s pictures. With a background in a photographic tradition of the 1990s, Rødland maintains a level of analytical reflection on photography as an object. His practice marks a continuation of and break with the 1980s Pictures Generation, in which ‘the picture’ became the object of complex analysis via critical theory, cultural studies, feminist criticism, appropriation and postmodernist thinking. Even with this background, Rødland is primarily an image-maker. He consistently avoids letting the individual image close in on itself in a self-referential and self-sufficient totality, but rather contributes to an opening-up of the image and its more active involvement in the world.

Rødland’s incorporation of aesthetic categories such as the lyrical, the romantic and the cute is about taking the sensuality of photography seriously, and investigating the seductive qualities of a photographic instant. Thus Rødland treats the photograph as materiality, as a manipulative medium for conveying emotions, and as a socioculturally determined phenomenon in contemporary culture. He brings a slowness to what appears on the face of it to be quickly-consumed commercial imagery (borrowed from advertising, fashion and film). The pictures resist a quick reading, and hold the viewer fast in a visual search which gradually uncovers new layers of both distaste and delight.

Torbjørn Rødland (b. 1970, Stavanger), lives and works in Los Angeles.

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