Phillip Toledano • Photographer, U.S.A.

A New Kind Of Beauty

Landscape Stories: How did you first come to arts? What was it that drew you towards photography in particolar?
Phillip Toledano: My father was an artist, so i grew up talking to him about his work, watching him work, and with the idea of making art always surrounding me. I suppose it was natural that I would try and do what my father did…
Landscape Stories: Who are your favorite artists and why?
Phillip Toledano: There are quite a few artists i like – painters, sculptors – Maurizio Cattelan, Bill Brandt, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, Constantin Branucusi, David Hockney… so many others… I tend to prefer painters and sculptors rather than photographers – I suppose I find them more inspiring, in part, because it’s so far from what I do…

Phillip Toledano from 'Bankrupt'
Phillip Toledano from 'Bankrupt'

Landscape Stories: On what are you concentrating with your personal research? What is the most rewarding thing in your work?
Phillip Toledano: The most rewarding thing is finishing projects! I love looking at a completed thing, knowing it’s behind me, and wondering what’s in front of me…
Landscape Stories: Are you commenting on society, contemporary culture, or consumer culture? To what extent does your work represent and reflect the present?
Phillip Toledano: I’m commenting on ALL of those things. I talk about what interests me, and what’s in front of me. Personally, politically, and socially. I do believe that everything is personal-even if it’s a political project, I’m still talking about myself, to an extent.

© Phillip Toledano from 'The United States of Entertainment'
© Phillip Toledano from 'The United States of Entertainment'

Landscape Stories: Does your commercial or personal work influence one more than the other?
Phillip Toledano: I think the commercial work allows me access to possibilities that I might not have considered, so it’s valuable. They’re not too different, in some ways. Both are about ideas, it’s just the execution of those ideas that changes…

© Phillip Toledano from 'The United States of Entertainment'
© Phillip Toledano from 'The United States of Entertainment'

Landscape Stories: Do you ever take portraits with the viewer in mind, maybe thinking about what other people might see? Or you never think about it?
Phillip Toledano: Never. That’s not to say I don’t wonder what people might think of the work, once it’s done, but I don’t think about it while I’m doing it. I just think about the idea-if it’s working, how could it be better. If it’s saying all I want it to say…

© Phillip Toledano from 'The United States of Entertainment'

Landscape Stories: What about the series ‘Phonesex’?
Phillip Toledano: What about it? (just joking) Much of my work is about delusion. How we lie to ourselves, to eachother, how we allow ourselves to be lied to. ‘Phonesex’ was interesting to me, because it was two people agreeing to lie to eachother. Not unlike marriage! (sometimes)

© Phillip Toledano from 'Phonesex'
© Phillip Toledano from 'Phonesex'

Landscape Stories: Referring to your book “A New Kind Of Beauty” … Could you tell us something more about the creation of the book (concept, editing, graphic, printing)?
Phillip Toledano: I started shooting ‘Beauty’ at the same time as i was shooting ‘Days With My Father’. Both books are very connected to eachother. ‘Days With My Father’ is about mortality, my fathers mortality, and ‘A New Kind Of Beauty’ is the opposite. It’s about (amongst other things) the denial of mortality, the pushing away of death. It’s also about other things. ‘A New Kind Of Beauty’, of course, and how we choose to become beautiful, and of course, it’s about the future of humanity. What will we look like in 20 or 30 years time, when plastic surgery is even more common that it is today?

© Phillip Toledano from 'A New Kind Of Beauty'
© Phillip Toledano from 'A New Kind Of Beauty'

Landscape Stories: We tend to work in series of images nowadays. What about the power of one single photograph?
Phillip Toledano: I’m not a single image person. I’ve always been a project person. That’s not to say within the project there aren’t particular images that don’t stand on their own. There must be, it’s just, i’ve never thought about the idea of just taking photos randomly.

© Phillip Toledano from 'Beatitudes'

Landscape Stories: What’s the piece of work that best represents your research and in which you see yourself in, the most?
Phillip Toledano: As I said earlier, they all show me, it’s just I’m more visible in some projects than others. “Days With My Father” shows my love for my dad, ‘Kim Jong Phil’ shows my sense of humor, ‘The Reluctant Father’ (the latest book) shows me, and my struggle with my child. Just as we’re made up of different sides, so all my projects show my different aspects..

© Phillip Toledano from 'Days With My Father'
© Phillip Toledano from 'Days With My Father'
© Phillip Toledano from 'Kim Jong Phil'
© Phillip Toledano from 'Kim Jong Phil'
© Phillip Toledano from 'The Reluctant Father'
© Phillip Toledano from 'The Reluctant Father'

Landscape Stories: Do you see any tendencies in the photography now? Who are the photographers that most excite you today? Which emerging artists are you looking at?
Phillip Toledano: The exciting thing about photography now is that it isn’t photography any more. By that, I mean that the definition of photography is much blurrier, much broader, and I like that very much.
Landscape Stories: What are you currently working on in your photography? What’s in store for you in 2013, photographically or otherwise?
Phillip Toledano: See more info here:

Interview curated by Gianpaolo Arena