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04/08/2013

Photographing our obsession with plastic surgery

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Tiana. (All photos by Phil Toledano)

“(Plastic surgery) is the opposite of mortality. It is the denial of death,” says Phil Toledano.

The London-born, New York City-based photographer explores the world’s fascination with going under the knife in his series, “A new kind of beauty.”

Toledano, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and GQ, says what it means to look human will eventually change as more and more technologies and procedures to alter oneself will become readily available.

Greater and more severe enhancements in plastic surgery -- as seen in his photo series -- will become the new norm. People who opt for extreme plastic surgery procedures will be seen as normal, functioning individuals and not deemed freaks.

Change is already underway, he says.

While decades ago, people with piercings and tattoos were seen on the fringes of society; nowadays it seems everyone and their cousin has a piercing or tattoo. Piercings and tattoos are accepted -- and people display them proudly.

“These kinds of people that I’m shooting are utterly the vanguard of that evolution,” Toledano told me last week.

The look he wanted to go with for his series is somewhat based on Northern Renaissance artist Hans Holbein the Younger's paintings. The German painter is famous for his portraits of Henry VIII's court. 

"I thought it would be interesting to take that style and overlay it over this new kind of beauty I see evolving in our own contemporary culture."

Toledano's subjects wear little makeup and clothes.

“I didn’t want to take a sexy picture. I wanted to make a beautiful, dignified photograph of that person," he says.

More of Toledano’s work, including his moving "Days with my father" series, can be found here.

  Untitled-1

(Courtesy Phil Toledano)


Lorianna De Giorgio is the Star's foreign web editor. Follow her on Twitter: @ldegiorgio

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