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Book of the Week: A Pick by Christian Michael Filardo

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christian Michael Filardo Christian Michael Filardo selects The Model, by Tørbjorn Rødland, as Book of the Week.
The Model
By Tørbjorn Rødland Mack, 2017.

Christian Michael Filardo selects The Model, by Tørbjorn Rødland, from Mack, as Book of the Week.

While watching a video interview about Tørbjorn Rødland’s new show, The Touch That Made You, at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, I was able to understand the way in which he works a little bit better. He discusses an inner catalogue of photographic memories, tropes in photography, and the viewer-photograph relationship. After hearing Rødland speak for a minute it becomes clear that his photography will push all the boundaries and buttons. He does just that in his new monograph The Model out now from Mack.

Essentially, The Model is a book in which Rødland photographs Polish model Małgosia Bela over and over again. She appears in ads in the city, on the covers of magazines, on a DVD case, behind bars, painting in a park, in front of a ship with the word Trollfjord painted neatly on it. At first glance this book is easily forgettable; however with more time one begins to recognize the cheeky nature in which Rødland is making art world commentary.

Many photographers follow an individual and photograph them. So much so that it has become a trope within the medium. We know Tiny by Mary Ellen Mark, Tom by Paul Kranzler, Man Next Door by Rob Hornstra, Conor Donlon by Wolfgang Tillmans, the list goes on and on. However, what sets Rødland’s book apart from all of these books is his attitude and attention towards the trope itself. Often people follow individuals or communities due to some sort of extreme existence they live or because they have a specific level of intimacy with an individual. While Rødland might be close with Małgosia, she is still, in fact, a supermodel. She’s playful, beautiful, seemingly fun, and omnipresent. Rødland finds her everywhere, so much so that you begin to question why one would photograph Malgosia at all. Her face is on billboards, in shop windows, random magazine pages; she is a vessel for capitalism, lust, and the idea of beauty itself. A few times Rødland even gets meta with his own work, actually photographing his last monograph, Confabulations, while it rests under a DVD, as well as photographing a gallery visitor looking at one of his images of Małgosia.

Ultimately, while this book isn’t a masterwork, it’s still a Rødland title, conceptual, colorful, and visually stimulating. A nice release from Mack worth checking out a fan of the genre of portraiture and beyond. A dissection of an institution that I find wonderfully successful. — Christian Michael Filardo

Purchase Book

The Model, By Tørbjorn Rødland. Mack, 2017

The Model, By Tørbjorn RødlandMack, 2017.

Christian Michael Filardo is a Filipino-American composer and photographer living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He recently had a solo exhibition called Tumbleweed Replica at Current Space in Baltimore, MD and is the current shipping manager at photo-eye bookstore.