A ‘new kind’ indeed – Toledano’s portraits are of people who have had radical reconstructive surgery.
In explanation of his work, Toledano projected that “in fifty or one hundred years time, I think humanity won’t look like it does today because of technology… We will be able to redefine what it means to look human and I think these people are the vanguard of that type of evolution.”
As Slate reports, the series grew from social media connections and word of mouth:
During an assignment to photograph a man who’d had multiple plastic surgery procedures, Toledano befriended the man’s press assistant. Through that friendship on Facebook, he noticed Allanah, a transgendered woman who had also gone through multiple surgeries. He photographed her, and she in turn let him know about other people for the project. It grew into a larger network of friends of friends.
He admitted people’s reaction to A New Kind of Beauty had been mixed, but not unexpected.
“Usually there are two kinds of feedback,” he said. The expected ‘Holy shit! These people look crazy’, which definitely isn’t the point of the work… it’s too easy in art to take a group or subgroup of people and point and laugh. I’ve never been interested in that.
“And then there are hopefully some people who understand the point I’m making about the direction we’re headed, which is what I’m trying to do… I’m not naïve; I know people will look at the work and be taken aback, but I hope they can work through that and see the point I’m trying to make.”
“I wanted to make beautiful and distinguished portraits of these people… I wanted to represent a particular part of beauty from our time,” Toledano said.
Although Toledano’s perspective is curiously refreshing and visionary, one might question whether these faces are indeed representative of our time (for now)…Angel (left) and Yvette (right) Steve Nikki (left) and Fred (right) Justin Monique Sonia
You can view Phillip Toledano’s other work on his website. His photographs appear here with his kind permission.