The PhotoBook

May 1, 2013

Torbjorn Rodland – Vanilla Partner

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Copyright Torbjorn Rodland 2012 published by MACK

This is the fifth book published by Rodland and previously I have only the opportunity to quickly browse his books, thus this is my first time to spend an extended duration with one. I can state that my first conclusion supports those earlier quick reads, this books is a quirky, complex and an odd mashup of absurd, if not at times silly, collection of photographs that Rodland has created.

The individual photographs included in this volume were created over the past ten years. This re-packaging of photographs reads like a Dadaism manifesto, which rejects rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition. Rodland stages ambiguous photographs that are purposefully difficult to read and then combines these with others to create a non-documentary and abstract narrative.

In a 2008 interview with Shane Lavalette (Lay Flat), Rodland stated his interest in photographs that have mythical potential, and that he is bored with thematic photography books, which place too much focus on motifs. That the logic of his books should be perforated and therefore erotic. (an Ed Ruscha style statement, of whom Rodland has acknowledged) And yes, there are a number of photographs that have a sexual, if not erotic, undertone.

Rodland draws upon a number of his photographic series that are interwoven through the book, which creates a complex visual layering. The disjointed sequencing is similar to a drive in which something seen reminds us of an earlier and somewhat related observation. As such, Rodland appears to investigate the non sequitur qualities of daily life.

The book has cloth boards with a printed embossed cover and spine. It is beautifully printed and bound; the paper has a nice feel and the photograph plates are not varnished and read very well. All of the photographs are framed with adequate white margins and includes one gate fold. The book is not paginated or provided an accompanying text and does have a summary of the captions provided at the conclusion of the plates.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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