Every two years, the city of Stavanger hosts the Offshore Northern Seas event (ONS for short and “the oil fair” in casual language). In recent years, ONS has incorporated broader energy issues and innovation in technology into its core programming, but maintains a heavy focus on the petroleum industry. The biannual event is comprised of an exhibition (the main fair), a conference and a festival. The fair brings together representatives of the world’s leading oil and gas companies in a 33,000 sqm exhibition area, has over 60,000 visitors during its 4-days program, and conference speakers include prime ministers and other officials from oil and gas producing countries as well as key players in the international oil and gas industry. In other words – it’s huge. While the exhibition halls are filled with multi-million budget stands and fancy gadgets, focusing on being a meeting point for the industry, the festival part of the event is open for everyone – presenting food pavilions, free concerts and other entertainment in Stavanger’s harbor. The entire festival and ONS event culminates with an enormous free concert in the town square followed by fireworks on the last day – analogous to a big celebration of the industry.
With all of the spectacle and crazy budgets, it may seem a bit strange that ONS also hosts an art exhibition in the middle of it all. But every time, they invite a local artist to present a solo exhibition in one of Stavanger’s fine art institutions. For 2014, the ONS artist is photographer Torbjørn Rødland, who will exhibit at Kunsthall Stavanger. Probably more known abroad than in his hometown, this is Rødland’s first major solo show in Stavanger in over ten years (the exhibition ‘Grav med utsikt’ presented over 50 of his photographs at Rogaland Kunstmuseum, now Stavanger Art Museum, in 2003).
Rødland works with photographic images, where seemingly randomly composed everyday objects, casual behavior or nature’s occurring coincidences are elevated into a place where there are no simple truths, beauty is found in the ugly, and questions are left unanswered. Complex yet simple, Rødland’s photographs speak to you directly without clarifying, simultaneously loaded with symbolism while lacking any clear references. Rødland thus reveals a rare sensitivity towards his motives, combining an investigative eye and a never-ceasing curiosity to establish a unique aesthetic language.
For the ONS exhibition, Rødland will show a selection of his photographic images.
The exhibition is on view from August 23rd to October 26th, opening on Aug 23rd 3-5pm.