Phillip Toledano – Bankrupt

At the beginning of 2001, I began taking pictures of recently abandoned offices, and the things people had left behind.

This project was more than photography for me. It was economic archeology. There was something very strange about walking into a recently abandoned office. The heavy, Pompeii-like stillness, punctuated by the occasional sound of the air-conditioning, turning itself on. A coat-hanger waiting patiently for a coat. A limp happy-birthday balloon on the floor. A drawer stuffed with take-out menus. Everywhere, there were signs of life, interrupted.

America had not suffered such a vertiginous economic collapse since the 1930’s, and I wanted to document the human cost, while it was happening. I clearly remember thinking at the time that I’d never see something like this again in my lifetime. Of course, I was very wrong. But the results are the same. The human cost is the same.

Phillip Toledano

Published by Twin Palms Press in 2005.

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