Translating from Latin as”dubious bodies”, Torbørn Rødland’s Corpus Dubium – recently exhibited at the Algus Greenspon gallery in New York – consists of ten photographs which ‘freighted with […] darkness’ offer ‘a chance to see beauty as symptomatic’.
In one white light emerges from between a women’s legs, in another a wisp of hair sits alongside twisted cutlery, whilst in a third a bare-chested man is flanked by unseen women – red wine spilled down his front.
Algus Greenspon evocatively describes Rødland’s images in the following terms:
Rødland’s images are simultaneously surreal, straightforward, titillating, gross, poetic, and funny. Each is backlit, and the haloed, whiteout effect creates a feeling of interiority. Hanging together here are surfaces of figures in semiconscious states, irregular and contorted body parts, images of image-capturing devices like a smart phone and a camera, and unmarked tablets. While palpably sensual, these pictures are also frigid; by accentuating every faint blond hair and banal plastic curvature, the artist locates that tipping point between attraction and repulsion, and never chooses between the two poles. A loose narrative about presence and absence, submission and domination is implied, that seems to have as much to do with Rødland’s subject matter as it does with the photographic medium. Throughout the works on view, potential images are suggestively conjured and captured within and beyond the frame.
Perhaps this idea of the latent or concealed image speaks to Rødland’s interest in the photographic medium as both within and without the language of art. It might be tied to a theoretical argument, presented as product, or traded as personal memorabilia. It is full of meaning one moment and divested of it the next, a tenu- ous object that nonetheless holds many symbols and even more signs. Rødland’s negatives might linger for months or years before becoming an exhibition print, and in some instances they will never appear outside of a book. His work emerges, coming into being when the time is right. This gestational approach oddly anthropomorphizes the notion of the photographic. Intimating an alignment with Rødland’s imaging of bodies, what goes in, on, or comes out of them, casting doubt on who or what controls the image and how it comes to be.