The Archives: Phillip Toledano
Phillip Toledano: The Narcissist
AB: What advice would you give to an emerging photographer?
PT: 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 just 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.
Read the full interview here!