Body Modifications of the Woman Born from the Young-Girl #NSFW / Hyperallergic

Philip Toledano, “Monique” (2008) (via mrtoledano.com)

CHICAGO — Move over, John Currin. Your paintings of disproportionate, not symmetrical picture-perfect bodies pale in comparison to the photographs of Philip Toledano, whose images portray women, transgender women and men with extreme cosmetic surgery. As a matter of focus, I’ll only look at images of those who identify in a feminine gendered space.

In our image-oriented consumer culture that places great emphasis on the body yet asks you to indulge every single one of your face-stuffing food fantasies, it’s curious to make a connection between the young-girl tattooing herself as a means of asserting autonomy, whereas the woman undergoes plastic surgery to in fact become “young” again — or at least, in the hopes of looking young again. The transgender woman poses another set of questions around gender; Toledano’s subject “Allanah” identifies as transgender, and has gone through multiple plastic surgeries. Her reasons for going under the knife are not motivated by an interest in recapturing her past as the young-girl, but rather to transform herself, physically. In this case, the term “girl” is used more fluidly, echoing a BuzzFeed interview with trans fashion model Arisce Wanzer who notes that coming out as transgender helped her to “start living as the girl I felt I was.”

Toledano photographs his subjects in classic, art historical poses, borrowing poses from images by Renaissance German artist and printmaker Hans Holbein the Younger.

The idea of portraying the older woman modified by plastic surgery yet posing her classically is a curious departure from Dutch artist Hendrik Kerstens’ work, who takes his teenage daughter Paula, who is a ciswoman, as subject matter. She poses with contemporary consumer objects adorning her head and neck — a doilie replaces a ruff, toilet paper rolls replace what would normally be giant, curled white hair. Creating her in an elegant pose, he looks at her as a father and imbued with the light of Dutch master paintings.

Read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/70581/body-modifications-of-the-woman-born-from-the-young-girl-nsfw/