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11.I met Toni, the Artist. Extract from 'I am your mirror' photography project

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Extract from 'I am your Mirror' photography book by Loredana Denicola.

Then I met Tony.

I called him the Artist.

Meeting him was a very awkward experience.

He is an artist, he travels the world.

He is a singer other than a very sporty man. And he is quite famous in East-Europe.

I realised that later, when he gave me his Facebook account.

He uploaded his photos and his various shows movies, that he was doing around the world.

My idea was to photograph myself and twelve strangers that I would find through the Internet.
These strangers, unpaid, would be free to choose a time and place to be photographed. They could express themselves as they wished, and could be anonymous, or not. I asked the strangers to look at the camera as if a mirror.

I was looking for people with obsessions, fears, paranoia, dreams that would love to pose in front of my camera like a mirror.

I would meet them and take some pictures of them.

The artist | I am your Mirror photography project | Loredana Denicola

It all started with a simple email, that one evening he sent me. He found my advert somewhere and took the opportunity. He said:

'I can do whatever you like. I am a life model , so naked is not a problem for me. Yours' .Toni

Plus he send me a couple of his pictures. I replayed him, the same night.

'Hi Toni, great! Do you want to meet me this week for coffee and maybe introduce ourselves? Let me know please. Lore

'I could meet on Friday but I don't do coffee , I am a bit of a workaholic , we could meet at Asda, East London, Becton, maybe a quarter past one pm, then I can get straight back to rehearsals .On Thursday I come back from Norway and will drive straight to Dover for some filming. Thursday would have been a good day for me'.

I agreed. Asda was a good location, in Becton.

Never been there, it was the first time for me.

I arrived early as I usually do, and I had a look around waiting for him.

There was a parking, and the shopping center. While I was waiting for him , I went o buy a sandwich. I was starving.

Then, after ten minutes I went back to the parking.

I imagined that he would come by car. And so it was. He arrived by car and he called me, on the phone.

I reached him.

Now I see him in front of me.

Toni is a very fit man, I was surprised when he told me he was fifty-seven.

Hello Loredana, how are you?, he said.

'I am good and you?' I replayed.

'Very well' he answered

It was one of those sunny days, that is rare to find in London and he was sweating. He looked like he had a heavy run.

'I don’t have much time,' he said, 'I am always running, around the world.' 'I am happy to help you with your project. You can use me as you like'.

I did photoshoots with other photographers, in the past, I am a stage man and you are lucky!

Once there was a female photographer, I don’t remember her name, who asked me to masturbate in front of her camera and asking me to come.

I couldn’t, but after a while I came, and she took a picture of me coming without showing my face.

If you want something like this we can do it!

She did an exhibition with my photographs, which had a great success. I show you the pictures next time I see you.'

'I am not looking for you to come.' I said - 'Can we use your flat?'

'I don’t think so, because at the moment I am living with other people and it is quite messy and crowded.'

'I don’t mind messy things. I quite like confusing situations.' I said.

'No no it is better using a studio with me,' he proposed. 'I have a friend who has one.'

'I don’t want to use a studio', I said. ' I don't like studios' I like natural situations, everywhere it is better than a studio, believe me.

Toni looked very young, confident, fit, fun, very talkative, always coming out with ideas, self-centered. One could see that he liked being at the centre of attention and now I understood why he was a life model plus a singer on stage. He needed to be at the center of attention, he was feeling important. I don't think he is that kind of person who can be alone, by himself. He liked to be at the center of attention, always. He felt alive.

'I need to go', he said, I have a rehearsal.

'Ok Toni, that is fine, would you like to come to my flat? I said - 'We can use my communal garden, but I don’t know if there will be people looking at the windows.'

'I don’t care about people.

If they want to play with me, they can come down and join the photoshoot with me, I am always happy to be part of a collective photoshoots. Once I did one with another photographer and 5 women naked. They were touching me everywhere. In that occasion, they asked me for erection again. All the time they ask me for erection, but I find difficult to do, sometime. It is not easy.