David Altmejd talks about the work Le Dentiste
If you cover an object with mirrors, it becomes invisible, totally transparent seeming. But if you walk around it, all of a sudden it takes shape, it becomes real. So a mirror-covered object is at once immaterial and supermaterial, especially if it’s broken—then it becomes hypermaterial. I like tension between totally transparent, nonexistent and suddenly supermaterial, dangerous, and sharp.
Mirror, wood, teeth, quail eggs, glass
Gift of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
Collection of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Le Dentiste is actually a giant covered in mirror. I thought it was really interesting. I had been working on a series of multimedia giants for a while, and mirror was already in my work, so I thought that by combining both, I would create something interesting because the giant itself, if you look at the multimedia giants, they have this really intense presence in space. And I think that by covering it in mirror, I was making it disappear in a certain way. It becomes kind of a ghost, you know, visually. So I thought it was really interesting to go from a state of extreme presence to a state of invisibility. And then, all of a sudden, it switches from a state of non-identity, of invisibility, to a state of super existence in a very simple gesture, which is hitting it with a hammer. So I see, actually, the breaking of the mirror, the smashing of the mirror, as a very positive gesture, because what I’m doing is I’m giving this object, all of a sudden, an identity and a physicality and a state of existence.
I called it Le Dentiste for the simple reason, if you notice in the back of it, there are a couple of holes and I’ve glued shark teeth on the holes because I wanted to make the holes become something more intense. And for that very simple reason I decided to call that whole sculpture Le Dentiste. If you notice, there are quail eggs integrated in little mirrored cabinets. It’s very interesting for me to always make sure that I find ways of making the sculpture feel like it’s alive, a little bit like a body, that it contains an energy or that it contains potential. For me, eggs are little things that contain potential and it’s a great potential because it’s the potential for life. So that’s the way they act inside the work. I am making it become alive.