The artist Phil Toledano has photographed obsessive video game players as well as people who’ve undergone extreme plastic surgery. The book, "Days With My Father," was an intimate chronicle as his father neared death. But for his latest endeavor, Toledano turned the camera on himself.
The peculiar thing about this project is that it's utterly useless. I mean you can't possibly anticipate what's going to happen but just the act of pretending to anticipate was useful for me.
For a project called “Maybe,” Toledano elaborately staged grim versions of his elderly self and imagined his own death — and then photographed them. The scenarios were based on readings by fortune tellers and psychics and an analysis of his DNA. The idea was triggered in 2009 when Toledano's father died, leaving him the only remaining member of his family: "I began to obsess about this thought of what else is life going to do to me?" (You can see some of the photos in the above slideshow.)
That same year, filmmaker Joshua Seftel's father died. When he learned of Toledano's project — the two were old college friends — he decided to document the process. What began as a three-month endeavor became a three-year project and the new film, “The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano.”
This week, the documentary was released on the New York Times website (see link below), along with an essay by Seftel on why he wanted to watch his friend virtually die, over and over again. While this seems like a bizarre project, both Toledano and Seftel tell The Frame how their dual projects helped each of them individually deal with their father's death and embrace themselves as fathers.
To hear Phil Toledano and Joshua Seftel discuss "Maybe" and "The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano" click the play button at the top of the page. To get more of The Frame, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.