A token is a fraction of the whole. It is not the original, and it will never be the original. It is a sliver, a moment in time, to stand-in for that which is irreplaceable. My art series “Token” was inspired by that definition.
In the images, the stuffed toy rabbit, dubbed “Token” by one of the models I used, is a symbol of something lost. Each subject in the photographs went into the shoot with a different thought of what they have lost. I never asked what they were thinking. I allowed the thoughts to be private although the outward manifestation of those thoughts would be public.
The models then acted out an emotion they felt was appropriate for their thoughts of loss. The image of the rabbit came to me in a dream. I’m not sure why. Oddly enough, eBay provided me with a toy that looked quite similar to what my sub-conscious constructed.
The symbolic nature of the rabbit was actually inspired by images from the cover of the record album for “Presence” by Led Zeppelin. The story goes that the artist of the cover felt the legendary band always had this “presence,” and the black obelisk that appears in each image on the cover indicates that Led Zeppelin presence.
At one time, I had a teacher—in those heady days of the 1970s when rock and roll was viewed as mystical and full of hidden meanings– who interpreted the obelisk as “death” -0 no matter where you are, that blackness looms.I was drawn to the idea that although the women changed in my images, the rabbit was a constant. We all will lose something in our life, no matter what it is, we will be affected and changed by it. Loss is a constant of our humanity.
The cinematic, theatrical feel of the images acknowledges the influence of the stage—I have acted and worked as part of the technical crew of a professional theater company and I review shows- and movies on how I view images.
About Mike Chaiken
Mike Chaiken is a photographer based in Connecticut, U.S.A. He has worked in photojournalism for three decades and fashion photography as well as art photography for about a decade and a half. His photojournalism has been featured in several newspapers in Connecticut. His fashion photography has been published in several national and international print and online magazines. His art photography has been shown in galleries across Connecticut. [Official Website]
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