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Issue No. 18 - Humanity

Confabulations by Torbjørn Rødland

Confabulations by Torbjørn Rødland

By Elana Kates

Cinnamon Roll © Torbjørn Rødland 2016 courtesy MACK


Norwegian photographer Torbjørn Rødland is known for his snapshot-aesthetic portraiture and landscapes—diaristic images that depict routine and familiar imagery. But, the LA based artist disrupts our ease with his work, injecting a bewildering sense of tension into his photographs.  Rødland explores this uneasy dynamic in his recent title for MACK, Confabulations.

Confabulations reflects on the tenuous nature of memory— the book’s namesake is defined in the dictionary as the unintentional fabrication, distortion, or production of memories. In Rødland’s hands, this subject matter becomes ordinary and surreal, fraught and darkly humorous—all at the same time. Dentures peak from the center of a mangled cinnamon roll. The pastry sits atop crumb-strewn packaging. A patterned carpet is visible in the top corner. The photograph is still nostalgic and mundane but the pairing is oddly lifelike, almost perverse. Rødland curiously blurs the line between human body and inanimate object.  Elsewhere, a girl peels a transparent piece of skin from her nipple in an act that registers both as violent self-mutilation and personal grooming. Another picture shows a box-cutter balanced on a swollen, pregnant belly. The tense juxtaposition between metal and flesh in this image is emblematic of a certain dynamic that pervades the title; Rødland insistently upsets our perceptions of human physicality in Confabulations.

Peel © Torbjørn Rødland 2016 courtesy MACK

Rødland communicates surreal imagery defined by a subtly warped representation of reality in these highly stylized and narrative photographs. The result is an exploration into the subjectivity of memory as well as photography as a medium.  Both are not entirely precise or objective. And yet, they have definitive elements of truth as well.  Confabulations reflects and disrupts a collective cultural experience. This duality exists in multiple facets, most prominently through the visual examination of the simultaneously uncanny and mundane. Although Rødland’s work for this project isn’t soothing or cozy it is beautiful and gripping.

Torbjørn Rødland was born in 1970 in Stavanger, Norway. He later studied photography at the National College of Art and Design in Bergen, Norway. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles and Oslo and has been widely exhibited since the late 1990s. 

Confabulations by Torbjørn Rødland published by MACK ww.mackbooks.co.uk

The Ninth Month © Torbjørn Rødland 2016 courtesy MACK

Article © Elana Kates

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