PDN Photo of the Day

Confronting the Future in a False Mustache

For his series “Maybe,” Phil Toledano turned the camera on himself, although covered in special-effects makeup and significantly aged, he’s not always recognizable. Toledano began the series, which was published by Dewi Lewis last year and is on view at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center until March 12, after the death of his mother, as a way to confront his own fears about the future. He told The New York Times, “I became quite fearful of what sharp turns life had in store for me and what other terrible unforeseen things might happen.”

Working with fortune tellers, hypnotists, his own DNA profile, insurance company statistics and a makeup and prosthetics artist, Toledano researched the diseases he was likely to get and imagined a set of banal and outlandish scenarios that incorporated them. He took acting lessons to play the roles. He pictures himself as a drunk, a cosmetically reconstructed gentleman with a tan, the old guy at the club in mutton chops, or as the center of a scandal, escorted by FBI and paparazzi. Toledano has paid-for company in some of the images—he eyes a nude woman as he sips champagne in a 1970s era living room in one; an aide sits next to him, texting, while he snoozes in a wheelchair in the park in another. But most find him alone—eating birthday cake at the office, sharing soup with his dog and his mustache, at his desk in a messy warehouse. None of the the outcomes are particularly cheery, but Toledano says the process helped alleviate his fears. “Guided by my research, I made images. And something extraordinary happened,” he writes in a statement. “The work transformed. From art, to exorcism.”

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Notable Photo Books of 2015: Part 2 (Phillip Toledano’s When I Was Six) (For PDN Subscribers only; login required)

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