Book Reviews

, The Reluctant Father, Dewi Lewis Media, 2017

In the shape of the photo book as material support, Philip Toledano comments on the experience of being unexpectedly father. Through a narrative diary formula- where the narrative diegesis develops more or less chronologically, this reluctant father becomes more and more consciously parentamong views and annotations. The medium is thesimple one of reportage photography, with naïve style and a series of recollections spiced up with irony and sarcasm.


Competing with himself, following his daughter Loulou's birth, the diarist summarizes the surrounding world and the autobiographical dimension, sometimes by means of gigantic figures and hyperrealism.


Valentina Isceri: In the meantime, I would like discuss on the power of the "gravity" word, strongly desired by you and used in place of "pregnancy". This stylistic choice encloses almost the entire meaning of your project, and that is a certain initial mood of the early days of pregnancy of your wife finally capitulate to a world of other emotions. How and in what way, exactly, did this change come?

Phillip Toledano: Well, I suppose the change came when i realized that loulou was a thinking sentient creature, and not a sea sponge! More specifically, and I know this sounds odd, but I relate to the world in a large part through humor, so when I teased loulou, and she teased me back, I realized we had developed a common language... silly, I know, but beautiful and important to me...


VI: It's a "clean" book. It has a fresh taste for the subject matter and sincere to the manner in which it is told . A gesture full of courage to tell because birth is not always synonymous with joy, but especially disorientation. Then, as a director, you felt more of a reluctant father or an avid photographer ? Behind the camera you had the objective measure of what happened to your new life: how much did this work make you come closer or more distant to yourself?

PT: Art is a way of understanding what I'm experiencing, what I'm thinking about. It's often a conversation I'm having with myself. So, in The reluctant father, I don't think I was thinking about being a photographer, I was thinking (and trying to understand) what I was experiencing. What's interesting to me is to see the change in the photographs-at the beginning, I think the images are more interesting, from a photographic standpoint, because I'm looking at Loulou like a scientific my love for her grows, the images change, and become sweeter, and maybe more cliche....I don't think the work itself makes me closer-it's a conversation that -I'm having, and by the end of the conversation, I understand what Iwas trying to say (if that makes any sense).


VI: You are very connected to your family and this is also evident from previous work about your father that gave birth to the book "Days with my father": how important is telling through others? We can define these two projects a kind of self-portrait? Think you've made an important contribution to the future, inexperienced and novices fathers?

PT: You're quite right-I think most art is a form of self portraiture, some more obvious than others. It's fair to say that since my mother died, my work has become decidedly more personal than it used to be. As to whether I've made an important contribution, I think that's not for me to say-only other people can say that!


VI: You've already thought of a continuation? Maybe it could be "The happy father", expecting new births? :-)

PT: There are two more personal projects I'm working on-neither are particularly happy, I'm sorry to say, but they're important conversations I'm having with myself-they are things I have to work out..I don't like doing them, but it's like medicine-you have to take it to make yourself better... no new children! (as far as i know) :-)

Dewi Lewis Media
Number of pages:
64 pages
6.7 x 8.7 x 0.4 inches

Curated by Valentina Isceri