Phil Toledano



Most of my life has been lived in a golden shimmer of love and privilege. I’ve been lucky in more ways than people can imagine. And intertwined through that iridescent daydream was the illusion of control. The reassuring sense of my hand on the tiller, irrevocably guiding me upwards, towards a bright, certain future.

When my mother died suddenly in 2006, everything changed. I thought that parents were forever, but when mine vanished, I realized that nothing really was. Obvious to most perhaps, but not me. The future became a frightening shadowed landscape, filled with uncertain paths and ruinous storms. I wondered-what other dark and sudden turns lay ahead? Rather than wait helplessly for my future, I decided to confront my fears. I would try and anticipate my fate. Guess at the abrupt and unforeseen directions my life might take. I would see myself as an old man. I would envision failure and loneliness. I would be invisible. Unable to walk. Obese. I would suffer a stroke. I would lose myself. I would slip sideways, into the irrelevant. I would see my own death. Photography is always about the past. The moment picture is taken; it’s behind us, in history. This project is about the future-but how do you research what has not yet occurred? I took a DNA test that told me what illnesses I was likely to get. I consulted with fortune-tellers, tarot card readers, hypnotists, numerologists and palm readers. I researched insurance company statistics. I looked within, at my greatest fears. I worked with a skilled prosthetics expert, so I could physically become my future selves. I took acting lessons. I learned how to move as an old man of 90. How to lose myself in character. Guided by my research, I made images. And something extraordinary happened. The work transformed. From art, to an exorcism.

Phil Toledano

I was born in 1968 in London, to a French Moroccan mother and an American father. I have a BA in English literature. My art education came from my father, an artist. It would be fair to say that I learned by osmosis. I am a conceptual artist: Everything starts with an idea, and the idea determines the execution. Consequently, my work varies in medium, from photography to installation, sculpture to painting. The themes of my work are primarily socio-political, although lately I’ve strayed into the deeply personal.

Place of Exhibition

Museu Nogueira da Silva

More information soon.

Institutional Partners

Braga UM DGArtes GovernoPortugal