The title of this new book from renowned photographer and book-maker Torbjorn Rodland suggests that the artist is looking for the divine in his sitters. If the child in Madonna and child paintings sym-bolises truth, then the pregnant virgin might represent a temporarily concealed truth – one masked or hidden behind compromised shells and failing bodies, young and old. The photographs in this arresting new collection negotiate surface and interiority and welcome tensions between contingent reality and archetypes, often uncannily recalling day-to-day life in intensely physical and opaquely allusive scenes. Constructed with characteristic precision and an instinct for surrealism and surprise, this sequence feeds on symbolism and visual texture in a sense reminiscent of classic ‘art’ photography or religious painting, but its self-conscious edge gives it a distinct and hard-to-fathom charge. With The Pregnant Virgin, Rodland explores analogue photography in dialogue both with online digital culture and visual art from before photography existed as a stable medium.

Torbjorn Rodland is to photography what the Pet Shop Boys are to pop: a master of the delicately orchestrated cliche overload, a surcharge of the too obvious, too cute or too insane, played to the point where, drained of all trace of common sense, it suggests a new sense of silence, of mystery. Rodland has a knack for producing images that make you ask what are, in fact, appropriate motives for art photography: Images of single audio or video cassettes? Bleak black-and-white renditions of countryside churches? George W. Bush’s favorite ice cream? A black banana? Girls and pets, pets and girls? He creates a complex of readings that inveigles the viewer into spending time with each single image, to reconsider its meaning and relevance. White Planet, Black Heart makes no excuses as it reinvents the romantic impulses of popular culture. This is Rodland’s first book.

With I Want to Live Innocent Torbjorn Rodland takes a break from the nomadic lifestyle reflected in his first book and returns to Stavanger, the city he grew up in. He doesn’t revisit old haunts and the images aren’t dominated by the geography of the region but Stavanger becomes a generous theatre for Rodlands exploration of the incongruous complexities both of his own mind and that of our culture. The centre of Norway’s oil industry, this Protestant coastal city has seen a tremendous economic growth since the late 1960s and Rodland utilizes a diverse array of pictorial languages to reflect on the paradoxes which arise with the addition of newfound wealth and materialism.

Catalog accompanying the first part of a diptych exhibition in S.M.A.K., Ghent, spread over two years, curated by Martin Germann with Tanja Boon and Steven Humblet. The exhibition comprises new and existing work by artists and photographers including Lewis Baltz, Tina Barney, Mohamed Bourouissa, Moyra Davey, Marc De Blieck, Sara Deraedt, Patrick Faigenbaum, Peter Fraser, Alair Gomes, Jitka Hanzlová, Roni Horn, Stephanie Kiwitt, Aglaia Konrad, Jochen Lempert, Zoe Leonard, Jean-Luc Moulène, Zanele Muholi, Jean-Luc Mylayne, Trevor Paglen, Doug Rickard, Torbjørn Rødland, Michael Schmidt, Arne Schmitt, Allan Sekula, Ahlam Shibli, Malick Sidibé, Dayanita Singh, Wolfgang Tillmans, Marc Trivier and Tobias Zielony. The selection, ranging from the 1960s to the present, demonstrates a lively interest in the power of the still image as a means of examining the world. It concentrates on indefinable images with an open view, whose multi-layering requires slow reading. With an introduction by Martin Germann and Philippe Van Cauteren, and an essay by Steven Humblet in Dutch and English

Torbjørn Rødland’s photography is direct but idiosyncratic, pushing at the boundaries of aesthetic and social norms. His fifth book, Vanilla Partner, continues in this vein, combining images of fetishized isolation in a layout that rejects the linear structure of thematic photography books. Rødland’s practice navigates through the problematic and seemingly unchanging heart of popular photography. Accepting neither the humanist realism of most photographic portraiture nor the postmodern role-play, Vanilla Partner explores the cultural complexities and archaic foundation of contemporary image-making. Reconstructed scenes of ultrasoft BDSM read like twisted metaphors for photography’s ability to freeze or capture. The book title, dripping in innuendo, also poses a question about the ambiguity of the relationship between the artist and his medium. Is Rødland acknowledging the medium’s straight foundation or does he see himself dominated by it? Many of the images also have explicit political references, often linked to the 1980 US Presidential election. Vanilla Partner brings together works made in Oslo, Tokyo, Beijing and Rødland’s current home, Los Angeles. Torbjørn Rødland was born in 1970 in Hafrsfjord, Norway. Since the mid-90s his photographs have been exhibited widely.

With contributions by Mark Borthwick, Camille Vivier, Torbjorn Rodland, Laetitia Benat, Jork Weismann, Johnny Gembitsky, Juergen Teller, Banu Cennetoglu, Jack Pierson, Bettina Komenda, Anders Edström, Giasco Bertoli Purple Look With contributions by Terry Richardson, Mauricio Guillen, Takashi Homma, Patterson Beckwith Purple Beauty With contributions by Alex Antitch, Sabine Schründer, Ange Leccia Purple Prose, “the food, drug and clothes issue” Purple Special by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster Art Direction: Christophe Brunnquell

With contributions by Andreas Angelidakis, Annette Aurell, Vanessa Beecroft, Laetitia Benat, Dike Blair, Mark Borthwick, Banu Cennetoglu, Anders Edström, Maria Finn, Elein Fleiss, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Miquel Gori, Mauricio Guillen, John Minh Guyen, Anne-Iris Guyonnet, Takashi Homma, Bernard Joisten, Olaf Klaasseni, Marcelo Krasilcic, Claude Lévêque, Miltos Manetas, Jack Pierson, Terry Richardson, Torbjorn Rodland, François Rotger, Collier Schorr, Laura Sciacovelli, Kenshu Shintsubo, Chikashi Suzuki, Ellen Treasure, Viktor & Rolf, Camille Vivier.

With Confabulations, Torbjørn Rødland presents a set of analogue photographs that subtly misrepresents broken memories and childhood fantasies. Confabulations distorts facts to get to truth. Fragmentation is neither rejected nor induced in this unitary approach, but seen as a starting point for new connections. Beneath a million silly memes Rødland is looking for new soul.