Torbjørn Rødland: The Pregnant Virgin
The title of this new book from renowned photographer and book-maker Torbjørn Rødland suggests that the artist is looking for the divine in his sitters. If the child in Madonna and child paintings symbolises 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, Rødland explores analogue photography in dialogue both with online digital culture and visual art from before photography existed as a stable medium.