A few months back while at Artpace I saw the work of Scottish artist Graham Fagen and connected with his installation. Teeth have been a constant in my own work and seem to always upset, surprise and confuse viewers. They are loaded with emotion and power whether it be visual or in written phrases such as Bite Your Tongue or Her Bark Was Worse Than Her Bite. Most dream interpretations of teeth or their loss explain the intensity behind such imagery as a sign of anxiety, loss or sexual repression.
In the work of Fagen teeth represent class and race as well. I loved how Fagen’s work was beautiful and poetic even as it referenced issues of body politics and slavery. His work got me to thinking who else used “teeth” as a symbol, metaphor or subject matter. Here is what I came up with….
Found this on My Space many years ago, I think I’m crediting the right source… Still one of my absolute favorites.
Illustration of the real deal:
A good read:
“I wish you wouldn’t keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy.”
“All right,” said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowy, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.
“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, p. 58.
A moment from my Philadelphia upbringing, I’ll understand if you can only watch a few seconds of this one:
Another reality from Senalka McDonald who got her BFA from UT in 2006: Smiling Sessions #2 (Cheer)
Grown up teeth:
An oldie but a goodie, one of Jack Nicholson’s first film appearances in 1960, a cameo in Roger Corman’s cult classic Little Shop of Horrors.
And perhaps the scariest of all, an episode of Friends when Ross Geller whitens his teeth: