EXHIBITIONS MORTEN TORGERSRUD
A NEUTRAL, FLEXIBLE STRUCTURE
For many years Morten Torgersrud has photographed various landscapes in the Barents region and investigated their meaning; from residential areas, architecture and town plans, to the ideological landscape created by certain ideas of geography in older photographs. In the exhibition A neutral, flexible structure it is the economic and abstract landscapes that are investigated through a series of images from this area.
The image world Torgersrud creates in this exhibition takes, like his previous works, the north-eastern part of Norway as a starting point, but has few if any specific local markers. Thus also investigating the photographic form itself and its relation to the production of space. This trait makes it impossible to place the images in a particular geography, and it is difficult to claim that the images represent something original or authentic.
Matt Packer, artist and curator, contributes to the exhibition at the invitation by Torgersrud by adjusting, and almost calibrating or camouflaging, the photographs with coloured glass. In addition, Packer has written a short fiction text to coincide with the exhibition. The text serves a continuation the discussion put forward by the images, while also serving as a decoy and distraction to the exhibition as a whole.
The photograph in itself is contradictory; it is both place-bound and non-sited at the same time. While the photograph was taken somewhere, it can - as a money or a commodity – be separated and moved from their original location. In A neutral, flexible structure Torgersrud uses this aspect of photography; namely that it through its specific technological origin always links to place and the distribution of place as an object. The photographs in this exhibition are technological primitive, created by digital technology as they are and not physical until they are transferred to paper, thus inferior in quality to the traditional negative/positive-process so rich in detail. This is a paradoxical parallel to the abstraction and transfers of capitalism. The photograph, like money, has become abstractions even though they clearly represent something in our real world.
The tension between the abstraction in the photographs, and the fact that we clearly see what is represented without being able to trace its origin, is the same tension we find in the world of commodities, the Made in…-culture and the fragmented geography of capitalism. By comparing today’s economic logic and abstraction we can continue: In A neutral, flexible structure we can trace uneasy questions of representation. Even in a work like this, where the artist avoids the hunt for identity and meaning, he is not exempt from the burden of representation.
The abstraction in A neutral, flexible structure is not formal abstraction, but ideological abstraction that appears when what is pictured is not the meaningful element. In cases like this the photograph plays on the same mechanisms that for a long time has been the driving force of economy, and particularly in the finance market with its hedge funds and currency speculation.
Through this series Torgersrud absolutely challenges the idea we have of what a photograph is, and what we can expect from it. If we reflect this back onto the capitalist logic we can similarly ask what we expect of contemporary society.
Morten Torgersrud (b. 1971, works and lives in Kirkenes, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden) holds his BA in Photography from the University of Brighton (1997) and his MA in Photography from the Bergen National Academy of the Arts (2002). Torgersrud's projects appear in the context of contemporary and historical configurations of the northern landscape. His work often considers ontological and conceptual aspects of photography in relation to the political-economic production of space. His last project Circulation sites was exhibited at Fotogalleriet in Oslo 2011 where it also received the BHK Fotokunst-prize. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, such as Collective matters (curated by Hilde Methi, Trøndelag Senter for Samtidskunst, Trondheim, 2010) and Namelss science (curated by Henk Slager, Apexart, New York, 2008), and his works have been acquired by several Norwegian public collections. He has previously published two artist books: Murmanskrovaniemikirkenes (2004) and [untitled] (2009).
Matt Packer is a photographer and artist as well as Curator of Exhibitions & Projects at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, Ireland. He holds an MA from the Curatorial Programme at Goldsmiths College, London and has curated numerous exhibitions, including Getting Even: oppositions & dialogues in contemporary art (co-produced with Kunstverein Hanover, 2008), Grin & Bear It: cruel humour in art & life (2009) and School Days (2010). His writings have been featured in magazines such as Source, CIRCA, Journal of Utopian Studies, Photography & Culture, and various exhibition catalogues.
The exhibition is curated by Anne Szefer Karlsen, and supported by BKH-stipend from Hordaland Art Centre and Statens Utstillingsstipend.