Art can be created with many different mediums and many different tools. For artist Tony Orrico, the medium is paper and the tool is his own set of teeth. Using a steady biting technique, the artist's work can be identified by its uniquely pebbled texture. For his signature piece, “Prepare the Plane,” Orrico chewed on an 8-by-8-foot piece of paper until the entire thing was indented; the process took more than eight hours. Tomorrow, he'll be recreating this feat at Chicago's Defibrillator performance art gallery.
Orrico has been interested in his jaw ever since it became dislocated while he was attending college. His jaw would dislocate several times a week. “The first time it happened it really shocked me and landed me in the hospital," Orrico told Hyperallergic. "I couldn’t close my mouth. My chin was against my chest and I was stuck—wide open—for hours."
The problem persisted into grad school and during Orrico's first job, dancing for choreographer Shen Wei. In order to continue his dance career, Orrico decided that he needed to overcome his jaw problems by exploring the connection between mind and body. He found relief from a series of exercises, or a body “logic,” that he developed himself.
You can see the endurance that Orrico built up in his chewed art. His first attempt at "Prepare the Plane" was in 2012 in Mexico City. The second nerve-wracking performance was in 2014 in New York. “There’s publicity around it," Orrico said. "There’s a date, a time, there’s a blank spot on the wall to hang the work when it’s finished. And I have a lot of distractions in my life and I’ve lost touch with my body in a lot of ways. I feel pretty average when I sit down in front of a concept I created three years ago. I feel an on-pouring of fear. And then I go.”