Simply gazing upon the details of Marina Fantich and Dominic Young’s work is a spectacle. Their latest contribution, an exhibit (or what they refer to as a boutique) called Apex Predator Darwinian Voodoo, is part of Miami Art Week and comprised of outrageously uncommon ingredients. Sculptures are antique mannequins fitted with suiting made of human hair. Faces are adorned with hockey masks studded with porcelain teeth. Leather accessories accentuate the poses of the austere mannequins.
Since their first work together in 2008, the London-based pair has made clear that their primal yet modern works have shock value with a purpose–to act as satirical commentary on the one percent and economics in a unknown space between practice, design, fine art, pop culture and high culture. In reaction to this particular line of designs, Young explains, “We wanted to decorate these primeval images which would make them fetishized or art objects which belong to this ceremonial attire, the Apex Predator.” The duality of the product also presents a grotesque view of the idea of hunting trophies. Young continued, “It was implied that these objects were taken, these body elements of teeth and hair and are used as a trophy which goes back to tribes and civilizations and society. The anthropological aspect but juxtaposing it with modern materials like these suits or high-end shoes.”
Apex Predator Darwinian Voodoo is anchored by the 2008 crisis that culminated in the protection of many banking institutions deemed too big to fail as well as too big for trial. Nearly 10 years on and Young believes the concept is not only ever-present, but has “gotten worse” and that there is now an even “bigger discrepancy between the rich and the poor.” Young goes on, “In another satirical way, the Darwinian Voodoo brand is giving the one percent that power, because they were bailed out. It was like socialism for the rich, the irony, when it really should have followed the economic Darwinism. They didn’t even follow their own template.”
And then their are the exquisite masks. They go further into tribal territory with their woven details that at first glance offer up romanticized thoughts of artisans in African tribes making sacred ceremonial masks. Again, there is another layer to the work upon deeper inspection: “The hockey masks have to do with sports, and all those colors that were tribal marks were military ribbon. Juxtaposing the ribbons with sporting attire and they are dealing with what Eisenhower was talking about, ‘the military industrial complex.’" He continues, “There is also an English Wicca element. What the English worshipped pre-Christian and the pagan cultures that worshipped nature. We were linking tribalism with the military industrial complex with military and sports, we were commenting on that without being too preachy or earnest.”
If you have the privilege of going behind the floor-to-ceiling face of Apex Predator, you can also experience the smells of the art. In an effort to mirror the luxury label, accessories and perfumes play their part in creating the aspirational identity of the brand. The creation of a signature scent–a musk–is a key entry into the lifestyle Fantich and Young create whip made of hair and teeth. "It’s sexual essence, letting the public think that if you use it you would become a part of the Apex Predator and marking the territory, like territorial pissing,” Young mentions. Other objects of tribal leadership include a whip made of hair and teeth as well as a dildo adorned with teeth.
There is so much to unfold or not in the world of Fantich and Young. Though you can’t wear the shoes or explore the potential uses for a tooth-decorated dildo, Young knows that such tricks can gain your attention and ultimately, maybe convince you to stay. Especially in today’s current political climate, cluttered with information, Young believes it is more necessary than ever. “We are looking to engage the viewer. We are always looking out to pop culture as a big influence. The way that politics is going right now is becoming so pop culture because of social media, it’s all becoming memes, an avalanche of information and an amalgamation of what is reality and what is fake and what is real.”