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.