Philip Toledano and Taryn Simon

Over the last few weeks I have looked at the work of two more practitioners, under the recommendations of my tutor. Here, I will summarise what fascinated me in the work of Philip Toledano and Taryn Simon.  Full references are given on the reference page of this blog.

Philip Toledano.

It was suggested that I look at his work “When I was six”. I approached Toledano’s website via the home page and decided to have a look around it first, wanting to see his videos (as it’s a form I have used very loosely but wish to use more).  His work “Make Phil Great Again” was unexpectedly amusing, and seeing him interviewing a stranger called ‘Cindy Sherman’, asking her to recount how great he is, was funny.

Looking at “When I was six” after this, was a bit of a reality check – although Toledano mixes reality with imagination in this work, the subject matter is very real and poignant.

After the death of his parents, Toledano discovered boxes which he describes as ‘museums’ full of things his sister had ‘touched’ before her sudden death at the age of nine.  He photographed the box, items in the box,  beautifully yet simply laid out.  There is a photograph of a school dress, protective tissue paper just about seen – with the shadow of the window upon it. A mix of light and shade. A worn down pencil with his sister’s name on it, again in partial light and shade. An old photograph. A lock of hair. A lace fan…all shot with the same background, interspersed with images that he has made, representing, in his words, imagined landscapes – a place where he, a six year old boy, could be saved.

By suggesting that I look at this work, my tutor saw potential resemblances to my work as the book dummy I made mixes reality with fiction – old found photographs with my imaginations of what might have been once there, in the torn pages.

Making Phil Great again can be seen:


When I was six can be seen:


Taryn Simon

I found the home page on Simon’s site of ‘a Living Man Declared Dead’ difficult to read, with so much text that I found myself wanting to skim it so I could discover what it was about. This body of work is huge, comprising eighteen chapters, each one having three segments. On the left, a kind of family tree in photographs, the middle section is narrative based to include details, and the third section are footnote images, providing clarification and evidence. Empty spaces represent people who could not be photographed. It is these empty spaces with which my work most closely connects.  Photographing the empty spaces in my found album, I have been drawn into looking at them more closely and as well as imagining what might once have been there, I have examined in detail the surface of the page itself, sometimes being captivated by the beauty of the damaged object.

A Living Man Declared Dead can be seen here: