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Group show: Showroom: Miriam Bäckström / Torbjørn Rødland / Esko Männikkö (over)

27 February 2009 until 18 April 2009
  Showroom: Miriam Bäckström / Torbjørn Rødland / Esko Männikkö
Miriam Bäckström
  Mai 36 Galerie

Mai 36 Galerie
Rämistrasse 37
8001 Zurich
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tel +41 44 261 68 80

We have pleasure in presenting selected works by Miriam Bäckström, Esko Männikkö and Torbjørn Rødland in our showroom.

In a series of photographs, Miriam Bäckström (born 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden) is concerned with the visual genre of the portrait. Using a total of eight cameras whose lens were released at precisely the same moment, she photographed her model from different angles. Some of the pictures are close-ups of the model's face or the back of the black-clad woman's head in front of a dark background. Others are taken from a greater distance and show the sitter's body and hands. The juxtaposition of images gives the photographs a cinematographic touch: despite the motionless position of the model's body and the concentrated gaze, there is an impression of movement. Miriam Bäckström seems to be trying the plumb the depths of the borderlines between the media – as well as between the photographic, the painterly, and even sculptural aspect evoked by a static bodily attitude. With the camera as her tool, the artist brings her subject close to the lens, as if she were trying to examine her features and bodily attitudes in the closest detail. Yet the result is a portrait that radiates calm and autonomous dignity.

Esko Männikkö (born 1959 in Pudasjärvi, Finland) presents a selection of work from recent years. Two photographs of closed entrances to dilapidated houses in the snow originate from the series Organised Freedom, which forms part of Männikkö's on-going reconnaissance of Finland. Like the portraits of people from his home region through which Männikkö became known in the 1990s and which are characterised by his simultaneously tender and relentless approach, the cold and abandoned houses create the impression of melancholy and hopelessness. These photographs are combined with pictures of animals, that have recently played an increasingly important part in Männikkö's work, and with which he investigates the relationship between closeness and distance to the animal. Frequently, he photographs the animals – e.g. a goat or a horse – from a very short distance and concentrates on details, so that the pictures make an almost abstract impression. The animal can only be identified by an eye or an ear. The living quality of the animals and the warmth that seems to be radiated by their fur contrast with the closed-in coldness of the portraits of houses.

The third artist in the exhibition, Torbjørn Rødland (born 1970 in Stavanger, Norway), is working on a photographic exploration of the world in which we live whereby it is the critical discussion with popular motifs and picture types that form an important basis of his work. He examines traditional structures of visual composition by playing with pop-cultural codes. The photographs selected for the exhibition give an idea of the extent of Rødland's artistic horizon. Both the discussion with the portrait and the photographs of nature are focal aspects of his work. There are often moments of irritation in his pictures, for example in Trees and Stripes, Untitled Illness or Butterflies – moments of irritation that make superficial harmony appear unstable on second glance. In the case pf Butterflies, for example, the gracefulness of the filigree butterflies contrast with the decay of the fruit on which they are poised like a baroque "Vanitas Still Life". The atmospheres created by Torbjørn Rødland in his photographs are characterised by a fascination for the beauty of life that is complemented by a sideways glance into abysmal darkness.

The work of these artists has been exhibited since the 1990s. Miriam Bäckström represented Sweden at the 51st Biennale in Venice, Esko Männikkö participated in the Liverpool Biennale, and work by Torbjørn Rødland was presented in a solo exhibition in P.S. 1, New York. The work of all these artists is represented in important international collections. [Text: Christine Heidemann]

The opening day is on Thursday, February 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. We are pleased to provide you with visual material on request ( We are looking forward to welcoming you to the exhibition and thank you for your interest.

Mai 36 Galerie

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