"Torbjørn Rødland: The Touch That Made You" is a project conceived and presented initially by Serpentine Galleries in London, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Amira Gad. The exhibition brings together a selection of more than 40 photographic works and 3 videos made between 1999 and 2016 by the Norwegian artist Torbjørn Rødland.
As Torbjørn Rødland explains, the title "The Touch That Made You" refers to "analogue processes: the touch of the camera, the touch of light striking the film, the touch of fluids flowing on the film during development. And it is something that connects to the complexity and intimacy of some subjects - the encounters between two individuals or between objects and bodies ". The artist works with analog photography, creating constructed and precise productions. Thus, in his creative process there is a dimension of control that he exercises on people and objects within the set and a component of surprise and unpredictability, since the final result of his efforts is visible only when the image is developed and printed on photographic paper.
Famous for his portraits, still lifes and landscapes, Rødland combines the formal clarity of the commercial image with a personal and poetic look, through which he transforms anatomical parts, everyday objects and natural elements into ambiguous fetishes. His work provokes in the spectator an ambivalent reaction of repulsion and attraction, intimacy and extraneousness with respect to the subjects portrayed. Rødland develops his images by isolating or producing visual conflicts: contrasts between materials, as in Frost no. 4 (2001) or The Geller Effect(2014); between physical conditions such as in Pump (2008-2010) or Candles and Cubes (2016); between external aspects of two subjects portrayed, as in Midlife Dilemma(2015) or Comb Ove r (2015-2016). The intent is not to illustrate a particular idea or to support a theoretical position, but to explore the symbolic potential of the photographic medium and the ways in which the viewer can be stimulated, if forced to confront these oppositions.
In the works of Torbjørn Rødland a strong self-reflection component can be identified. His still lifes and portraits, in particular, challenge the stylistic conventions of these two genres through visual inventions that integrate magical, surreal and subjective elements.
In the two levels of the Observatory, photographic works are exhibited on wooden structures characterized by monochrome and smooth surfaces, on the inside, and on rough and unfinished walls, on the outside. In the small screening room that concludes the exhibition path, three videos shot by Rødland in the last decade are presented in succession: The Exorcism of Mother Teresa (2004), Heart All This & Dogg (2004) and I Am Linkola(2007). For Rødland, these works represent "a tool to explore movement, interval and temporality - qualities that I can not deepen so explicitly with photography. So it is still an investigation of the photographic medium, but with different parameters ".