Phillip Toledano (USA) / The Absent Portrait / October 09 – November 02 2013


I source original, censored packaging from Iran.

Packaging in which the women have been erased. Inked out, individually, by hand.

I remove the blacked-out figure from the surrounding image, and a transformation occurs.

The censor becomes an artist. And the censored figure becomes a portrait.

A portrait not of a person, but of absence. Of suppression. A portrait of a point of view.

The censor, whose job it is to erase, becomes the person who makes us look.

– Phillip Toledano  2013


Phillip Toledano (b. 1968) is a British photographer living and working in New York City. As an artist, he works across mediums from photography to installation. His conceptual themes are primarily socio-political. Toledano has five monographs published on his artistic practice, all being received to critical acclaim. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times magazine, The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Wallpaper, The London Times, The Independent Magazine, Le Monde, and Interview, amongst others.

Download the roomsheet or catalogue here.

Press / Media:
Eugene Reznik, Iranian Censorship as Art: Portraits of Absence by Phillip Toledano, Time Lightbox, September 25 2013
Katherine Brooks, Artist Creates EerieAbsent Portraits’ From Censored Product Packaging In Iran, The Huffington Post, October 14 2013
Rob Alderson, Art: Excellent project makes portraits of women from censored Iranian packaging, It’s Nice That, October 01 2013