Well-known for his provocative, hyperreal sculptures, Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan draws from popular culture, historical events, and organized religion to expose contradictions in modern-day society and blur the lines between myth and reality. Alongside his sculptural practice, Cattelan has pursued his highly critical view of authority and the abuse of power through an active involvement in publications. In 2010, he joined forces with the Italian photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, whose commercial clients include Nike, Sony, Heineken, MTV, and Mercedes-Benz, to found the biannual, picture-based magazine Toilet Paper. Together they create and produce photographic narratives and tableaux that are at once humorous, poetic, and irreverent.
Best described as a magazine full of advertisements without products, Toilet Paper investigates the contemporary obsession with images, the construction of desire, and the manipulation of vision. In Cattelan and Ferrari’s carefully composed photo shoots, the vocabulary of fashion and commercial photography is both celebrated and parodied.
“We keep homing in on what a Toilet Paper image is,” Cattelan says. “It’s not about one particular style or time frame; what makes them Toilet Paper is a special twist. An uncanny ambiguity.” The magazine is a work of art in itself, which, through its accessible form and wide distribution, challenges the limits of the contemporary art economy.
Reinforcing their obsession with advertising tropes, 11 images culled from various issues of the publication have been selected and sequenced by Cattelan and Ferrari, and blown up to billboard proportions. Presented along King Street West, these larger-than-life compositions resonate in the city’s entertainment district. Highly theatrical and evocative of film noir, these scenes intertwine the realms of fantasy and reality as the artists orchestrate the vernacular of commercial photography to create surreal compositions.
Presented in partnership with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Toronto
Supported by the City of Toronto
Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein