Torbjørn Rødland

Furry

2015

C-Print

28 × 35,5 cm

Edition of 100 copies, numbered and signed by the artist on verso side

Out of stock

about this work

Viewing Furry, one is drawn in by the photograph’s attractive palette and the codes of commercial fashion media. But parsing the image, one quickly hesitates: Is this photograph racist? misogynist? exploitative? And yet objectively, it is none of the above. Objectively it is a patently open image, like a stock photo. What is given: the subject is dark-skinned, maybe young; the slight contrapposto, shape of the legs, and pedicure suggest the subject is female; new-looking, beige, wall-to-wall carpeting covers the floor. The star of the composition, from a narrative angle, could be the subject’s furry legwarmers – a key component of the trashy “festie angel” look so common to EDM shows – but the subject, appearing in this sterile, contemporary setting (and here the projection begins) of a dressing room, a hotel suite, a new development home, signals anything but “rave.” With Rødland’s work, such disruption of expectation is taken as a given; it’s up to the viewer to cohere meaning. Published in Rødland’s most recent book, Confabulations, Furry, like the volume’s other images, is an analogue photograph, rendering the work’s surreal quality all the more uncanny.

about Torbjørn Rødland

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.

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Other works by Torbjørn Rødland

Torbjørn Rødland - Legs and Tail, 2020

Torbjørn Rødland

Legs and Tail

1160

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