In North America, having perfect white teeth is about more than just health; it is often an indicator into an individual’s social status and personal background. In the 1800s, poor people would sell their teeth to the rich, whose own had rotted away from the consumption of sweets that the poor could not afford. In present day, the “Hollywood smile” has become a status symbol of privilege. Poor oral health isn’t only a physical risk: it threatens education and job prospects, and thus, social mobility.
Presented under the form of a tricenium (also known as a three-way portrait or multiple view prints), Reconcile With A Smile features a smiling denture and two text based images, each only visible from alternate vantage points. A simultaneous commentary on the ephemeral nature of teeth and the precarity of non-profit culture institutions in a post-gentrification neighbourhood.
As creative partners and life partners, both Oliver and Yen-Chao have dealt with frequent dental health problems from childhood to present. These conditions have induced financial and emotional strains on their relationship. The artists hope making an open display of Reconcile With A Smile can help them confront their dental contempt and reconcile on a personal level, while bringing attention to broader social inequalities, with an open heart and a smile.