I read at open mics with a self-consciously flat meter, I submit short stories to literary magazines only to shrink in horror when I discover their Googlability, and I decried the diary throughout my youth before ultimately gaining employment as a blogger. The pull between humility and ego is ever-present and exhausting. Artists must indulge, fundamentally, I argue, for what would expression be without the self? Artist Phillip Toledano confronts his ego with pomp for his Kim Jong Phil series. In his statement, he writes:
“It occurred to me that being an artist is a great deal like being a dictator. Just like a dictator, I must live in a closed loop of self-delusion. A place where my words and ideas always ring true. A gilded daydream of grandiosity. There can be no room for doubt. I must be convinced that I have something vital to say. I must believe that the world is waiting in keen anticipation to hear my message.”
Working with the historical canon of dictatorial art, from Saddam Hussein to Kim Il Sung, Toledano inserted himself into a legacy of narcissism that makes me just want to tweet my little heart out.
All art by Phillip Toledano
Can you relate?