What can be said about a magazine devoid of words? Led by controversial and bombastic contemporary artist, Maurizio Cattelan, and all-star photographer, Pierpaolo Ferrari, Toiletpaper Magazine (published by Damiani) is an image-based publication that dances through glossy, commercially inspired styles in an attempt to bring absurdity to an absurd world. . There isn’t much to say, but a whole lot more to see.
Their shoots often recall the fever dreams of a psychoanalyst. Symbolic objects stand in uncanny arrangement (surreal substitutions are a Toiletpaper favourite) around models who often make unabated eye contact with the lens as if challenging us to confront the absurdity of our own situation. Some of their favourite motifs are animals and food, and their images take the hyper-saturated palette of advertising imagery. Toiletpaper’s pages play through verbal and visual contrasts and puns, but a degree in semiotics is not needed to parse their meanings. For the past 12 years, their work has played through Cattelan’s and Ferrari’s intrigues and whims; each edition is organized around a thematic focus inspired by its ‘moment.’ At the heart of it all is a fun spirit; they don’t take themselves too seriously, and to best enjoy their work, you shouldn’t either.

Despite Toiletpaper’s lack of words, we caught up with Ferrari about the making of their publication. We do not unearth secrets; their hand is apparent in their work and their magazine speaks for itself. The past few years have brought the artists a more expansive range of exhibition opportunities. Recently, they have held large-scale installations across the world: imagine the Toiletpaper aesthetic peeled from its pages and plastered upon architecture. As always, you can bring a bit of Toiletpaper into your home with their line of clothing, home goods and, as of recently, personal care products.
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Could you please introduce yourself and tell us about your road to Toiletpaper?
Driving in reverse gear in the opposite direction.
What makes a Toiletpaper image? When do you have to flush an idea?
Il brivido sulla schiena (the shiver down the spine)! When the meaning is not enough!
In the past decade of Toiletpaper’s existence, the world has changed a lot, and your magazine’s Instagram has become an increasingly popular channel for you. Why still publish a print magazine?
What does taste mean in the year 2022? Is good taste virtuous?
The limit between good and bad taste is called boredom.
Early surrealists liked photography because it proved that the dream intruded upon reality. Now, people have less of a belief in the image. What makes something feel surreal or uncanny to you now?
I’m a very pragmatic person and it’s not so easy for me to feel uncanny/surreal.
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What did the Kenzo partnership mean for Toiletpaper? Do you think the brand felt like they were taking a risk?
We think they know what they were doing, and they approved.
Toiletpaper issues all focus on a theme of one sort or another – it’s usually quite expansive. How does this begin to take form?
We try to be inspired by the moment in which we live.
In 2014, you published 1968, a book in collaboration with the DESTE Foundation in Athens covering Italian radical design, particularly the studios Archizoom, Superstudio, Global Tools and 9999. What does this movement mean for you two and for the magazine?
It has been an incredible inspiration, we discovered our aesthetic: radical pop.
Do you have a favourite issue of Toiletpaper? Least favourite?
Often my favourite is the last one even though you do not have a favourite child.
Pierpaolo Ferrari, you spoke in an interview of the importance of having the opportunity to fail, and the need to consistently introduce change and motion to your work. When was the last time you failed?
I failed every time I put my ego behind my message.
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Have you made images with anyone who seemed to really ‘get it?’
(Laughs) every time!
Who in the world is the most Toiletpaper in the flesh (either alive or decomposed)?
My partner Maurizio (still alive).
I imagine it takes quite the team of diversely talented artists to make a Toiletpaper shoot happen. How did you build the Toiletpaper team? Have there been any creative relationships that have helped to build the magazine’s current identity?
The team is almost the same since the beginning. The result of the teamwork obviously and all the team is credited. The beauty of working at TP is being all together and having fun.
Do you think you are funny?
Ask my friends.
You have held an increasing number of physical exhibitions. How do you make a room feel like a Toiletpaper photo?
A bit unexpected, and a bit of madness.
What is next for the magazine? Do you have any dream projects?
A movie!
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