David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in Frieze New York 2018 with a solo presentation of new photographs by Torbjørn Rødland, the gallery's debut collaboration with the Norway-born, Los Angeles-based artist. Rødland's images are meditations on the tactility of the physical world, boundary-testing explorations of contemporary cultural mores, and--given that he works exclusively with film-based cameras and chemical darkroom processes--arguments for the continued power of analogue picture-making.
Often prompted by preexisting, non-photographic imagery that he transforms into real-world photographic subjects, Rødland portrays scenes that seem designed to generate psychological discomfort while simultaneously foregrounding the representation of wetness, stickiness, and other highly sensory qualities. Such non-verbal experiences of aversion and touch are offset by elements in the photographs that tend toward the specificity of language. These include tropes borrowed from commercial photography, formal elements that appear in multiple works, and people whose relationships are clearly asymmetrical--jarring pairings of the old and the young or the innocent and the profane. This last quality gives his work a particular charge in a society that is actively and publicly debating such issues.
Among the photographs on view in this presentation, several recurring themes appear. A series of images of faucets being manipulated by a woman's hands are conspicuous for their absence of water and the distinct black and white design painted on the woman's nails; erotic, detached, and defined by the carefully calibrated interplay between light, color, and reflection, they exist at the intersection of classic 20th century art photography and luxury advertising. As studies in exterior surfaces, they provide a contrast to another group of photographs in which substances--a sheer white fabric that also serves as a dress, a thick vomit-like liquid--spill out of women's mouths, providing visual metaphors for the internal emerging into the world.
Like many of Rødland's works, the majority of the scenes depicted are backlit and suffused with an ethereal glow that makes it difficult to determine where--and why--they take place. A notable exception is a large image of two young men posed with a motorcycle next to a barbed wire fence. Inspired in part by the Japanese genre of manga cartoons known as Boys' Love, whose homoerotic narratives, paradoxically, are primarily made by and for young heterosexual women, the picture opens up thematic terrain the artist will continue to explore in his upcoming solo exhibition at the gallery in Los Angeles in June 2018.
Torbjørn Rødland (b. 1970, Stavanger, Norway) is currently the subject of the solo exhibition The Touch That Made You, which opened at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London in 2017 and is now on view at Fondazione Prada, Milan through August 20. Fifth Honeymoon, another solo museum show, opens at Kunsthall Bergen, Norway on May 24. In 2016, Rødland presented the public installation Blue Portrait (Nokia N82) in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Other solo exhibitions include shows at C/O Berlin (2017); Kunsthall Stavanger, Norway (2014); Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan (2010); P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York (2006); and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo and Rogaland Kunstmuseum, Stavanger, Norway (2003). Group exhibitions include Faithless Pictures, The National Gallery at The National Museum, Oslo (2018); The Photographic I - Other Pictures, S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium (2017); What People Do for Money, Manifesta 11, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Luma Westbau, Zürich (2016); LIT, 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2016); The Elephant Test, Lothringer13 Städtische Kunsthalle München, Munich (2014); N'importe quoi, Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon, France (2009); Trials and Terrors, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2005); and Greater New York, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York (2005). Rødland lives and works in Los Angeles.