Nothing is Creepier Than the Quotidian, at the Fondazione Prada

What are artificial teeth doing on a appetising chocolate pastry? They derail visual expectations and challenge the mechanisms of meaning. A subtle line separates pleasure from anxiety in the photos of Torbjørn Rødland. Underscoring this, in images worthy of any publicity campaign, is often an out of place detail - what Freud and the Surrealists would refer to as the “uncanny”. One just has to look closer to perceive - the familiar charm of two butterflies on the makings of a delicious picnic, until we realise that they are on top of a bunch of rotten bananas. Portraits, landscapes and still lifes portray the fascinating and ambiguous universe of Rødland in the spaces of the Osservatorio – Fondazione Prada, in a show that retraces the themes explored over the last twenty years by the Norwegian artist who lives in Los Angeles. If food, the body - “cut to pieces” in a series of close-ups and made even more “tactile” by dripped honey - or teeth - “a symbol of fear and irrational anxiety” - are among his favourite subjects, anything can be made into a wild game. Refined compositions seem to be rendered purposefully to demonstrate how wonders can disgust and attraction can offer up repugnant details. The revelation is that every myth has two faces and potency is often found in the one less shown.
Francesca Grego - © 2018 for Bulgari Hotel Milano