Thousands of off-white teeth adorn masks, shoes, and codpieces in the artist duo Fantich & Young’s installation Apex Predator | Darwinian Voodoo. Presenting itself as a luxury lifestyle boutique, the conceptual pop-up merges consumer goods and postmortem objects in a macabre comment on capitalism, inequality, and the "survival of the fittest” principle often espoused by people in power.
“The apex predator has no predators of its own,” says Dominic Young, one-half of Fantich & Young. “Our concept was that they were taking these teeth as trophies to wear as ceremonial attire, like what [Stanley] Kubrick was going on about in 'Eyes Wide Shut.' It’s all about a ceremonial ritual that's contemporary yet primeval.”
Originally intending to satirize the 2008 recession and the too-big-to-fail banks that fueled it, the artists now recognize the wider implications of their work. Inequalities are most apparent in economic terms, but they exist throughout society, where they're often reinforced through rituals in politics, religion, athletics, and the military.
"Rituals are essential,” Young says. "They bond societies or civilizations or tribes together. I think we’re becoming even more tribal and ritualistic, if that’s possible. It’s actually getting endorsed rather than fading away."
The Apex Predator line is “for the discerning client with a taste for power and exclusivity” and includes luxury items such as perfume bottles and high-heeled shoes decorated with human teeth and hair.
"Teeth are very primeval," artist Mariana Fantich says. "They're especially relevant for the title of the piece, the embedded concept of an apex predator, something that is on top of the food chain. The teeth go well in a conceptual way, as a concept and in a primeval, animalistic, tooth-and-claw way.
"Teeth are like the tombstones of the body,” Young adds, "like little miniature tombstones. When everything else has decayed, they still remain.”
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Each piece comes with a hefty price tag — $2,000 for an egg, $7,000 for a pair of stilettos, $10,000 for a gramophone — that seems to implicate the artists in the concepts they’ve set out to critique. But Fantich and Young insist they’re still outsiders looking into an industry defined by its exclusivity.
"We try not to get too polluted,” Young says. "We still see ourselves as outsiders looking in. Through time, we will be more polluted, but at the moment, we’re hanging onto our outside credentials.
“We're like Jamie Reid of the Sex Pistols,” he adds, “signed to EMI but still singing 'God Save the Queen.'"
Barrett Barrera Presents Fantich & Young's Apex Predator | Darwinian Voodoo. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 6, through Saturday, December 9, and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, December 10, at 221 NW 23rd St., Miami; barrettbarrera.com. Admission is free.