The Dreamcatcher

Posted to Publikasjoner, Kunstformidling on 29.09.2015, 08:17 by Hilde Berteig Rustan with

A naked infant is seated upright with one hand placed on his heart on a soft grey-white carpet, and looks at the viewer with a devious and excessively focused and intense blue-green stare. This photograph, which at the moment is viewable on the cover of the September issue of the art magazine Artforum, was taken by Torbjørn Rødland and he is one of the few Norwegians who have the honour of adorning the publication.

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Rødland’s photographs operate in a landscape where they are both captivating and trivial, with an underlying discomfort which in this disturbing focused child, Baby (2007). This photograph should not be staged, but the positioning and the glance do, besides, make it into something alien, something that the observant viewer finds unsettling. Rødland’s imagery often finds itself in limbo between popular culture, photographic tropes, myth, reality and verified falsehoods, and that which can often be perceived as a glossy, banal advertisement at first glance suddenly turns into something else, a shifted glance, a seductive photographic representation which immediately requires a deeper look. They can be nostalgic, sugar sweet and alluring on one side, but they also have an underlying dark, repugnant and full of sticky substances. Dreams and reality, the bizarre and the beautiful all at one time.

Professor Ina Blom has written an article that follows several of Rødland’s photographs in this issue of Artforum, and she discusses his artwork from the beginning, when Rødland was first and foremost known for the picture of the hipster with a plastic bag in the woods, and how since then it has evolved into an even more untouchable character via the visual allusions he includes. Rødland talks perhaps most of all about the analogue photographic language as a medium, and what kind of potential exists in these pictures that are frozen in time which we surround ourselves with to a higher and higher degree. His photographs communicate, but what do they actually want to say? The unclear and ambivalent nature of Rødland’s artwork is also its strength, and gives the viewers the opportunity to continue the narrative of what is really happening underneath the surface.

Rødland’s photographs have for a long time been part of the Astrup Fearnley Museum’s photography collection and his work is proudly exhibited at our alternating exhibitions of the collection. Another Norwegian artist who is represented in the collection, and who has also been on the cover of Artforum, is Knut Åsdam and a film still from his video work Untitled: Pissing (1995) in 2000.

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