Saturday, March 3, 2018

Torbjørn Rødland, First Abduction Attempt and Other Photographs @ Galerie Eva Presenhuber

Man, recent MFA photography shows have made me tired of work consisting of random assortment of stylishly made photographs that have only a tangential connection to each other. I have always thought of Torbjørn Rødland as a lesser Roe Ethridge, but with more naked ladies. I am not sure the current Rødland show changes any of that for me, but he does seem to be on the tip of many a tongue nowadays, and there is something to be said about his work. Without even realizing the title of the show, I spent most of the exhibition having flashbacks to the morally challenging and emotional disturbing rape revenge fantasy film Elle by Paul Verhoeven. There is something about the quality of light that is so professional that everything feels like it is a studio rather than real life. Combined with all the objects from naked women to broken ceramics, the look is so stylish the pictures become hyper real, like something from a waking dream or, I guess a well-made foreign thriller. Then there is the image a woman thrusting her hips up towards an unknown force outside of the frame, and an image of naked buttocks pushing gently against a small picket fence and hands tensed against the front of ice skates that all hint at a complex if not sinister sexual dynamic underlying the work, even when it is just the shine off of a green apple.

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