Being an artist is a great deal like being a dictator. Just like a dictator, I must live in a closed loop of self-delusion. A place where my words and ideas always ring true. A gilded daydream of grandiosity. There can be no room for doubt. I must be convinced that I have something vital to say. I must believe that the world is waiting in keen anticipation to hear my message.
For my palette, I’ve copied pre-existing dictatorial art. Paintings from North Korea, statues of assorted dictators (Kim Il Sung, Laurent Kabilla, and Saddam Hussein). I had these works re-created in China, and each instance, I’ve replaced the great leaders with myself.
Phillip Toledano was born in 1968 in London to a French Moroccan mother and an American father. He is the author of three books, including Bankrupt, (Twin Palms, 2005) Phonesex (Twin Palms, 2008) and Days with My Father (Chronicle, 2010). His forthcoming book, A New Kind of Beauty, will be released in September of 2011. Phillip also works outside the realm of photography and recently exhibited his installation work at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. His photographs have appeared in publications such as The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Harpers, and The London Times, among many others. See more of his work here.