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Torbjørn Rødland

Furry (2015)

Torbjørn Rødland is an LA-based Norwegian artist. Informed by the Pictures Generation’s self-reflexive use of commercial media and its embrace of the Barthesian “birth of the reader,” Rødland takes up the conventions of genre photography. But as the viewer registers the image, the semiotic constellations do not resolve; rather, the viewer is pinned by the weight of her own subjective projections. Viewing “Furry,” for example – Rødland’s edition for Texte zur Kunst – 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.

C-print, 35.5 x 28 cm, edition of 100 + 20 A.P., signed and numbered on the back, € 350.- plus shipping.