Ola Rindal was born in a small town in the Norwegian countryside. He left to study in Sweden before settling in Paris in 2001, where he has lived ever since. Ola is one of those gems who is more known outside of his own country, a national treasure in the diaspora. His new book, Invisible (Pictures for an untold story), brings both his subject matter and Ola himself back to the old country.
I called up a hyper-stressed Ola the day before the book launch in Oslo. He was in Paris and the first snow had just started falling on the city.
VICE: Hello Ola. To me, your previous work seemed to deal with escapism, whereas Invisible feels more about the act of returning, as it seems to revolve around your home village in Norway. Can you explain more about what drove you towards this project?
Ola Rindal: The images in the book deal with the things that slip away, hidden things, the pictures are very secretive. So yeah, my work does deal with escapism, but more precisely with the things in life you can’t hold on to. The act of returning might be by chance and it is not the most important idea of the book, even if a lot of the images are made in my hometown in Norway. The most important aspect to me is the sense of gaze, the poetry in the images. The work is also darker, more obscure. Does that say more about you or your hometown?
I wanted to convey the general idea of the obscure and hidden, as the title suggests. Some images are about nothing, dealing more with the spectator—for example, the blind-folded horse or the man who looks out into the nothingness. The lack of gaze might be seen as a self portrait of the person who looks at the images.
I talked to your publisher and he defined the aesthetic of the new work as something you could expect from an incredibly talented artist who just got his first camera and did not know the settings yet. How calculated is that aesthetic? These aren't happy accidents, right?
I am chasing the coincidental for sure, but it is more than that. If I see something that interests me, I’ll use that as a basis and see what sort of ideas I can show with it. I have studied photography for a long time and by knowing the rules I was able to break them. Anyone can get lucky by accident on single images, but creating a body of work by chance is impossible unless it is calculated. It’s harder than one might think to make something look random.
Do you approach the book form a different angle than you would approach a temporary gallery exhibition, given that the book will be around forever?
Yes. There are different ways to work, this time around I started with a few images and built the body of work around that. I made new photographs to complement the older ones, which made the process more precise than making a book based on my archive.
Which photographers inspire you?
I like a lot of photographers—Jurgen Teller, Anders Edström, Friedlander, William Eggleston, and Tom Sandberg. But day-to-day I am inspired by whatever I come across on the streets. What are you working on at the moment?
Always keeping busy! Another book is in the pipeline, as well as more editorial work. Flying to Oslo tomorrow for the launch and then to China for a shoot the day after that, if the paperwork is done in time. Click here to get your hands on a copy of Invisible (Pictures for an untold story). Christian Belgaux is the photo editor of Natt&Dag magazine.
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