East London-based artists Mariana Fantich and Dominic Young presented their first solo show in the U.S. with their Apex Predator/ Darwinian Voodoo collection. The show featured a collection of household and lifestyle objects, shoes, and clothing using human teeth and hair.
I found the collection subversively beautiful and intriguing, and I was interested in the ideas about power and hierarchy that the installation was eliciting.
The macabre figures and various objects evoked qualities of money and power. The color palette, styling, and Old-world feel elicited a notion of the upper class but with a statement about power and perhaps the dangers inherent in gross inequality.
One of the themes I noticed among the objects was sports. Sports-related masks, the bats, etc. felt threatening, violent even. Sports equipment is used in competition and for fun, but bats and masks can also be used in violent acts and/or to disguise one’s true self.
The notion of wearing masks, putting on airs, can also be related to the clothing and shoes featured prominently throughout the collection.
Our clothes, especially shoes, often indicate our social class to others. Clothing and shoes are used as status symbols to help us elevate our status or to elicit responses that we desire in others.
These stilettos are all at once commanding and powerful, delicate and fragile. They evoke the power of wealth and social status and of corporate America. They could be worn by a lady who lunches or by a top CEO. Stilettos are delicate, balancing the weight of one’s body on pins. They are shoes of a woman of prestige, of a woman who has the luxury of not being on her feet all day.
The natural element of teeth makes me think of teeth collected as trophies of one’s victims. With all of the shoes in this collection, one imagines the wearer literally stepping on those teeth, crushing the competition or the victims beneath his or her feet. It’s a powerful and evocative message.
My favorite item from the collection was the red Maryjanes with teeth for soles. The juxtaposition of the sweet girlish shoes and the somewhat gruesomeness of the teeth was simply striking.
The codpiece with its phallus of teeth is tusk-like and imposing. It has an almost threatening quality, and for me, speaks of hierarchies of gender and the use of sex as power.
What do you think of this collection?
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