HAMBURG.- The Deichtorhallen Hamburg
is showing two exhibitions entitled The Day Will Come When Man Falls as part of the 6th Triennial of Photography from 19 June to 6 September 2015. The exhibitions focus on various series of works by the New York photographer Phillip Toledano, who develops socially relevant and personal visions of the future. The show has been complemented by a showcase exhibition with some 50 portraits from the F.C. Gundlach Collection, the initiator of the Triennial of Photography in Hamburg. Furthermore, a shipping container village located on the square in front of the Deichtorhallen serves as the center of the photography festival.
Phillip Toledano, who was born in 1968 in London and has lived in New York for over 20 years, deals with subjects that are firmly anchored in the inner landscape of everyday thoughts, but are often avoided, repressed, or completely blocked out. Old age and bidding farewell, submerged memories and those that are dragged to the surface, social isolation, and the possibilities of defying mortality through medical and technical advances: in his carefully and highly staged photographic series, Phillip Toledano deals with current issues that challenge us and often have a strongly confrontational effect.
In his series Days With My Father (20062009) Toledano presents a journal-like account of the last three years in the life of his father, who suffered from dementia. In the series, aspects of the once vital, ambitious, and attractive figure repeatedly appear in the now care-dependent and helpless father. The series Phonesex (20082009) portrays phone sex operators in the private surroundings of their apartments, which also function as their place of work. The accompanying interviews offer striking insights into their view of themselves and their creativity against the background of their illusory sexual complicity with the customer. The protagonists in the series A New Kind of Beauty (20082010) have undergone deep and irreversible changes extending even to the complete reshaping of their entire body through plastic surgery. For his series Maybe (20112015) Toledano developed elaborate photographic scenarios and short film sequences in which he places himself in various situations and stages of life. The series is based on DNA tests and conversations with psychologists and fortunetellers about possible future developments and involved a team of makeup artists and acting lessons.
Toledanos works have a direct and provocative effect because they expose the fundamental characteristics of the increasingly narcissistic Western world. Often accentuated by accompanying texts, his sometimes narrative, sometimes cinematic series of photographs not only compellingly address aspects of self-definition such as success, power, youth, beauty, and consumption, but also subvert and emphasize them. The exhibition includes some 160 works from six selected, in some cases never-before-exhibited series of photographs as well as six short films and a documentary completed in 2015, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this April.
The showcase exhibition with works from the F.C. Gundlach Collection is conceived as a supplement to and commentary on the exhibition. The selection of self-portraits by Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Lee Friedlander, and John Coplans reveal how the photographers play with their own image in the sense of a consciously chosen self-dramatization. The portraits by Diane Arbus, August Sander, and Nicholas Nixon as well as Katharina Bosse, Erwin Blumenfeld, and Pepa Hristova demonstrate a great subtlety in their reaction to the subject and their surroundings. The largely frontally depicted subjects repeatedly confront the viewer with interesting and persistent questions about his or her position and state of mind.