Lots of good stuff up on Issue #10 of Fraction Mag, particularly Phil Toledano's A New Kind Of Beauty, which seems to jump right off the
page monitor with its uniquely startling artistry. Toledano's featured work, somewhat conceptual in nature, translates into pure photographic genius where the rubber hits the road. In all fairness, I guess one could argue that even photo booth portraits could yield exceptional photographs given the exceptional photogenic nature of the individuals assembled. Quite likely. But Toledano doesn't play it safe, adding yet another layer of surreal hyper reality with his theatrical studio lighting and presentation that both confronts and complements the intense physical dynamics of his subject matter.
Then I couldn't help but think of several other photographers who also infuse their own unique sense of "theatricality" into their portraiture. One is Loretta Lux. Unlike Toledano's prephotoshopped specimens, she applies her own secret potpourri of digital sorcery to successfully create her own infectious hybrid universe.
Speaking of shock value, we sure can't leave out Mr. Joel-Peter Witkin. This guy most definitely has his craft down; and while I no doubt find the occasional photo of interest (usually the "tamer" ones)- he just tries way too hard for my liking. Always trying to shock and revolt, make us queasy and uncomfortable. Always striving for the next audacious same ol' thang... sex and freaks and various parts thereof in various, never ending combinations. A bit embarrassing after a while, like Mick singing Satisfaction at 65; or Billy Joel at any age (another consummate, experienced craftsmen that'll bore ya to tears). Creeps me out for all the wrong reasons...
Last and certainly not least is the absolute king of spectacle and theatricality, none other than Mr. Les Krims himself. A guy with enough imagination for a dozen damn artists. And while I certainly don't like everything he's done (and his politics are somewhere to the right of 90 degrees), this guy can do it all and take it to places where dreams run wild- black and white or color, documentary or fabricated beyond belief. Some of his staged tableaux can be very elaborate, others as simple as his (naked) middle aged mother making chicken soup. Dark or foreboding, sexy, surreal or humorous- but rarely boring.