Tania Franco Klein - Photographs London Friday, May 19, 2023 | Phillips
  • “My characters are anonymous, almost melting into places, vanishing, constantly looking for any possibility of escape. They find themselves alone, desperate and exhausted. They are constantly teetering on the line between trying and feeling defeated.”
    —Tania Franco Klein

    Mexican artist Tania Franco Klein’s (b.1990) enticingly enigmatic series Our Life in the Shadows explores the psychological consequences on humans pursuing the so-called ‘American Dream’. Employing retro styling and cinematic framing to stage herself as anonymous characters in undefined locations and time, the artist creates a series of self-portraits set against domestic backdrops. Here, Franco Klein’s fatigued character rests her head on what appears to be a kitchen counter with her face, distorted and dramatically draped in light and shadow, appearing in the reflection of a toaster. According to the artist, her character has been worn down by media overstimulation and the societal pressure to consistently overperform.


    The current lot demonstrates the artist’s fascination with colour – contrasting the bright wooden countertop with the ochre-coloured curtain beside it – to drive the viewer’s experience. ‘The colour, the lighting and the feeling of loneliness create a nostalgic mood,’ she notes. ‘I always concentrate on the emotional part of the image.’ With her sleek yet offbeat style, Franco Klein constructs ambiguous tableaux that provide no fixed or clear meaning, as seen in the present work, transporting us to another dimension. What is clear is that emotion always lies at the core of her work. ‘Emotion is universal,’ she states, ‘and everyone understands emotions. It doesn't matter where you're from. You know how it feels to be anxious, you know how it feels to feel lonely.’ Living between Mexico City, California and London, Franco Klein has received numerous awards, including the Photo London Artproof Schliemann Award in 2018 and the LensCulture Visual Storytelling Award in 2019.

    • Exhibited

      Vitamina A, Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, 24 March - 28 April 2017, another
      Felix Schoeller Photo Award, Museum of Cultural History Osnabrück, 15 October 2017 - 25 February 2018, another
      Our Life In The Shadows, Thessaloniki PhotoBiennale, Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, 21 September - 21 October 2018, another

    • Literature

      T. Franco Klein, Positive Disintegration, Paris: Bessard, 2019, n.p.



Toaster, (Self-portrait) from Our Life in the Shadows

Archival pigment print, mounted.
Image/Sheet: 106 x 160 cm (41 3/4 x 62 7/8 in.)
Frame: 110 x 164 cm (43 1/4 x 64 5/8 in.)

Signed in pencil, printed title, date and number AP1 on a Certificate of Authenticity accompanying the work.

This work is AP1 from the sold-out edition of 5 + 2 APs.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 25,000 

Sold for £19,050

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London Auction 19 May 2023