°1970, Stavanger (NO) – lives and works in Los Angeles (US) and Oslo (NO)
The Norwegian photographer Torbjørn Rødland depicts our everyday reality in strange ways. He mixes the seductive aesthetics of advertising and fashion photography with the more profound way of image-making of European classical and symbolist painting. The result is ambiguous images that both attract and repel. Rodland’s practice deals with our human existence – with hope, passions, fears, trauma – through layered and charged images for the internet age.
While Rødland’s photography is not conceptual, his work is undeniably informed by conceptual art: his work is an investigation of photography itself. He treats photography as a material, a manipulative medium capable of playing on our emotions. In addition, photography largely determines our reality (just think of how many photos you come across every day in newspapers, on bus shelters and on your phone).
Torbjørn Rødland is first and foremost a maker of images. His images tend to be carefully staged, with great attention to the way the set is constructed, to how the objects are placed, to lighting, to colours, and so on. Rødland’s images do not permit a quick reading. The artist attaches great importance to the layered nature and open meaning of a photograph. He invites the viewer to make personal interpretations but points out that these personal opinions are shaped by our cultural context. Rødland consciously plays on this and makes his pictures in such a way that the references that they evoke sometimes clash with each other.
In concrete terms, this means that Rødland’s photographs evoke the mythical qualities of both contemporary media and art-historical painting. Each viewer reads the image differently, depending on their cultural interests. For example, an art historian will see the work Goldene Tränen as a reference to a crying Virgin Mary, while a teenager who spends her days online watching porn may have a more sexualised reading of the same image.
Torbjorn Rodland – Avocado, 2013
Torbjorn Rodland – Eggs, 2019
Torbjorn Rodland – Blue Portrait (Nokia N82), installation view at Whitney Museum, New York in 2016
Torbjorn Rodland – Bible Eye, installation view at The Contemporary Austin, 2021, Austin, TX (Photo by Colin Doyle)
Torbjorn Rodland – I am a photograph, installation view at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels (Photo by Hugard & Vanoverschelde photography. Courtesy of the Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels)
Torbjorn Rodland – The Touch That Made You, organized by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, installation view at Fondazione Prada, Milan in 2018
Torbjorn Rodland – Tied Up, 2006 - 2018
Torbjørn Rødland has shown his work in solo exhibitions at Serpentine Galleries, London; The Contemporary, Austin; Fondazione Prada, Milan; Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki; Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima. He has also participated in projects such as MANIFESTA 11, Zurich, the 9th Berlin Biennale, Berlin; the 2007 Athens Biennial, Athens; the 48th Biennale di Venezia, Venice.
Torbjørn Rødland is represented by the following galleries;
click through to discover more of his work.
You can also discover more of Torbjørn Rødland’s work on his own website.
Torbjorn Rodland – Bathroom Tiles, 2010-2013
Torbjorn Rodland – Trichotillomania, 2010
Torbjorn Rodland - Arms, 2008
Torbjorn Rodland – Five Berries, 2014
Torbjorn Rodland – Goldene Tränen, 2002
Torbjorn Rodland – Untitled, 2009-2013