Trained in art and dentistry, David Khang brought to Toronto his research on the benefits and the limitation of Botox injections as well as on the result of the interaction of human subjects and other microorganisms (botox is a neurotoxin). British Columbia is the first state in Canada to allow dentists to perform botox injections. As a Dentist based in BC, he immediately jumped at the opportunity. The resulting Beautox Me explores the effects of this popular procedure on two experienced actors who gladly volunteered to perform a shakespearian piece before and after the injection. In toronto, Khang presented the two stages on a split screen with stunning results.
here is the video with Lesley Ewen reading Marcus from Titus Andronicus and
Billy Marchenski reading the Porter from Macbeth
Billy Marchenski also “performed” during the very procedure. Interestingly, the piece he chose was from Richard III
The project produced some reaction from the actors, who sometimes felt that their range of expressions had become independent from their intentions, or, as Lesley notes in an essay on David Khang’s project, “Mashup Destinies” by Kóan Jeff Baysa :
My forehead doesn’t correspond to my emotional state with the same creasing and folding activity…My mask has been neutralized…Do I appear false? I’d mourn for my previous faculties of expression, for how deftly I’d cock a brow or narrow the outer corner of an eye, slowly raise my forehead and draw back the skin of my head in order to appear to grow younger right before your eyes. After years spent parsing and developing my muscles….Squirt. Poof. All of these grace notes…gone.
Khang’s Beautox me is part of a long term project he started developing during a residency at the Synbiotica Centre, Amelogenesis Imperfecta (how deep is the skin of teeth). The two projects were first exhibited at the grunt gallery in Vancouver . In dentistry, enamel is produced to recreate a tooth, but what about making tiny teeth as sculptures? Amelogenesis Imperfecta sought to produce enamel by harvesting in vitro epithelial and mesenchymal cells from an enamel organ of a pig. Khang didn’t succeed in producing enamel, but created some thin layers that he engraved with microscopic messages (thanks to the use of a laser tweezer and a microscope), such as “how deep is the skin of teeth?” The project became a reflection on ethical interspecies relations. In fact, the artist asks, “can we imagine brushing our teeth in the morning as an act of killing bacteria on a massive scale?”