A new book featuring portraits of surgically enhanced models aims to challenge what we consider to be aesthetically pleasing.
Phillip Toledano’s A new Kind Of Beauty asks whether human faces and bodies redesigned using extensive surgery could ever be considered a paragon of beauty.
The striking series of portraits features models who have undergone significant plastic surgery, including facial modification, implants, lifts, collagen injections
The new York-based artist, whose photographs have appeared in the new York Times, GQ and Esquire, says his objective was to challenge what we see as beautiful, questioning whether one can redefine what we see as beautiful – and wondering whether we can choose to create beauty ourselves.
The coffee table tome features semi-nude and nude works of men and women who have cosmetically enhanced their faces and bodies.
The features of the surgery patients begin to resemble one another, creating a paradigm of sorts
The subjects in the book have undergone a combination of procedures, including lip augmentation, rhinoplasty (nose reshaping), breast augmentation or pec implants, blepharoplasty (eyelid lift or modification) and body resculpting.
Shot in the traditional chiaroscuro style, the contrasting light and dark tones only serve to further enhance the modifications the models – dubbed The Botox Botticellis – have undergone in the pursuit of physical perfection, or in an attempt to turn back time.
These photos may seem extreme to many, but according to Toledano, there's something 'transcendent in their classical poses lit in gorgeous chiaroscuro and their determined faces'
Some may find the portraits haunting, despite Toledano’s attempt to recreate the sense of a classical portrait. for his part, Toledano says there’s something ‘transcendant’ in their classical poses, and their ‘determined’ faces, though he too stops short of deeming them beautiful.
‘Beauty has always been a currency, and now that we finally have the technological means to mint our own, what choices do we make?’ Toledano asks in the introduction to the book.
‘Is beauty informed by contemporary culture? by history? or is it defined by the surgeon’s hand? can we identify physical trends that vary from decade to decade, or is beauty timeless?
The photographer suggests that with such extreme surgery, his subjects could be creating a new version of what is considered to be aesthetically pleasing
‘When we re-make ourselves, are we revealing our true character, or are we stripping away our very identity?
‘Perhaps we are creating a new kind of beauty. an amalgam of surgery, art, and popular culture.’
Certainly, whether one perceives the portraits as beautiful or not, one thing the book does reveal is the homogenising effect of multiple cosmetic procedures.
Those who have had many operations done begin to resemble one another, their surgery-sculpted, narrowed noses and plumped-up lips taking on similar form.
Their individuality is lost. in attempting to distance themselves from their natural appearances, they become uniform somehow, leading to an uncanny situation where a paradigm is created, albeit artificially, which may be considered beautiful by those who embrace and pursue this look.
In theory, for these subjects, this paradigm becomes the norm. Ultimately then, wider exposure to this paradigm may create a familiarity that breeds acceptance.
In time, such familiarity could enable the casual beholder to accept the cosmetically enhanced face as having the potential to be beautiful, rather than rejecting it out of hand as freakish.
In reality though, the majority of us may feel such a notion is a long way off.
By DEBORAH ARTHURS, Daily Mail
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