Toilet Paper is a bi-annual magazine made up solely of surreal and ambiguous images.
It contains zero text or ads ( except for the long list of contributors, assistants, stylists and producers), contains only full page color photograph spreads that appropriate the slick production values of commercial photography, to deliver surreal, beautiful (or repulsive) images.
It is a collaboration between artist Maurizio Cattelan (the Italian born artist who is a master of humor and satire) and Italian photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari.
On the occasion of his sensational retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Cattelan announced that he was retiring from art.
In 2009, Cattelan teamed up Ferrari to create an editorial for W Magazine‘s Art Issue.
In 2010, they started Toilet Paper Magazine.
“We had so much fun, we said, why don’t we do more of this?,” Cattelan told Ferrari.. Then together once more, they did a shoot for TAR, and then had a baby: Toilet Paper.”
It’s not Cattelan’s first periodical …………. “Other magazines I’ve done, like Permanent Food, were really more radical. We would do an issue in twenty-four hours. We’d start by going to the newsstand and buying anything that caught our eye. We would rip out pages, re-edit them, and send it off to the printer.”
Maurizio Cattelan challenges the rules of the contemporary cultural system that he himself belongs to, subverting its paradigms: this time, by poking fun at the world of slick magazines and stuffy, self referential art critics.
“Toilet Paper” fearlessly builds a bridge between commercial photography and fine art, relying on the camera of well-known Italian photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari to create an archive of images that seem to bring Cattelan’s dreams, fixations and nightmares to life.
“I think everybody will like the magazine,” said Ferrari. “It’s not only a question of selection of pictures, but also of the sequence that links the various photos. The magazine springs from a passion/obsession that Maurizio and I have in common. Each picture springs from an idea, even a simple one, and then becomes a complex orchestration of people who build tableaux vivants.
This project is also a sort of mental outburst. Maurizio and I come from fields where thousands and thousands of pictures circulate. We produce them for work: I in the worlds of fashion and advertisement, he in the field of art with his works and the projects – also editorial projects – he runs.”
In Toilet Paper, the images might appear to have been appropriated from world’s most surreal stock-photograph service, but they’re all made from scratch.
“Every issue starts with a theme, always something basic and general, like love or greed,” Cattelan explained. “Then, as we start, we move like a painter on a canvas, layering and building up the issue. We always find ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to be. The best images are the result of improvisation.”
Many images are rejected, he said, because they’re “not Toilet Paper enough.”
What makes a Toilet Paper photo? ……… “We keep homing in on what a Toilet Paper image is. Like distilling a perfume. It’s not about one particular style or time frame; what makes them Toilet Paper is a special twist. An uncanny ambiguity.”