Musée Magazine Issue No. 11 - Vanity - Page 254

P h illi p T oled a n o the na r cissist Andrea Blanch: What advice would you give to an emerging photographer? Phillip Toledano: You’ve got to be shameless, and by that I don’t mean in terms of promoting yourself. You’ve got to be shameless about the way in which you make art. You can’t make art with the idea that people might not like it, that it might be viewed as one thing or another. Your heart has to be on display, however it manifests itself. If you hold back, then it’s visible in the art and then it’s not good art. AB: Why did you choose photography? PT: Because it was the thing that I could do. I had been doing it since I was 10 or 11. AB: Do you go to photography shows? PT: No. Actually, I don’t find photography that inspiring. I find painting, sculpture, or installations much more inspiring. I had this epiphany a few years ago that the thing that interests me the most is the idea. What is very liberating for me is to let the idea be the thing it wants to be when it grows up, rather than trying to shoehorn this idea into pictures. Some ideas are not photography at all. I just finished two new books, one of which is performance based, which has been really excruciating. AB: Are they selfies? PT: They’re self-portraits, yes. After my mother died suddenly I became apprehensive of my future. I thought about the ways in which life can take a sudden, sharp turn. I thought rather than worry about it, I would confront my fear head on. I just finished this project, called “Maybe,” where I took a DNA test that told me what illnesses I am likely to get, and then I spoke to fortunetellers, psychics, and tarot card readers. Based on all this information I made photographs of my future, of all the dark things that could possibly happen to me in the next 40 years. AB: How did you express that photographically? PT: Based on the DNA tests that said, “OK, you have a high chance of obesity or you have a high chance of heart disease, or…” I worked with a prosthetics person, I spent 45 hours to get into makeup, and I took acting classes. Then I acted out that version of myself. AB: You needed acting classes for that? PT: You need to learn how to be a man of 94. How do you move? Or how do you move if you’re obese? I had to inhabit possibilities of myself. I hated doing it. First of all, I’m not a very patient person so sitting, waiting, and prosthetics for 4-5 hours is miserable. I don’t like being in front of the camera and I had to learn how to act. Most of the time I wasn’t taking the pictures, I wasn’t even framing them. My assistants were taking them. I would think, “Why are they off kilter like that?” It would make me crazy because it’s very important how a picture is framed, but I had to give that up. But it was interesting because you don’t usually get to be 95 and then 45 in the same day. I’m not saying that I could feel exactly what it was like but I had a very vague feeling of what it might be like... Portrait by Andrea Blanch. All of the following images from the series, New Kind of Beauty. 252