Art of the Day — Installation/ Performance: “Momoth” (2009) by Marya Kazoun

  June 17th, 2012



       Marya Kazoun (b. 1976 in Beirut, Lebanon)
          still from Momoth, 2009 — Installation/ Performance, Sant’Elena, Venice Biennial



       Marya Kazoun
          still from Momoth, 2009 — Installation/ Performance, Sant’Elena, Venice Biennial



       Marya Kazoun
          still from Momoth, 2009 — Installation/ Performance, Sant’Elena, Venice Biennial

       Additional details:

       Materials: Bamboo, trash bags, tape, glue, beads, metal wire, fabric, glass, breast milk
       Collaboration & performance: Christian Minotto & Andrea Busetto
       Photo Credits: Francesco Allegretto
      From the artist’s statement (found here): “A giant creature emerges out of the lagoon and crawls onto the mainland. Thousands of glass balls with breast milk are hanging from hooks on its skin./ Momoth will go around will give out a glass ball to the needy. After his first round he will stand still with the glass ball around so who ever needs milk can still have some.”
      Must have been something to be there and witness these shaggy Lhasa-Apso like shambling mounds shuffle about in the clear sun, susurring with each step, leaving clusters of big milk-globes behind. Each egg-like deposit rocking back and forth as liquid settles inside them. I especially like the middle shot with one of the Momoths lumbering away slowly, almost as if it knows its precious and much-needed gifts will remain unused, rotting and blackening in their brittle chambers in the powerful heat.
     I first encountered Beirut-born Kazoun’s work at the NYC Museum of Arts & Design — it was a wall piece if I remember right, a striking texture-rich piece incorporating tissue, glue, little glass wriggles and squirts, inky tadpole looking shapes, all against an unhealthy ghosty yellow background. I was smitten by the work. It looked like what you’d find if you smashed a hundred giant ant larvae between two pieces of acid-damaged drywall & stuck the ensuing sandwich in a jumbo freezer & then slowly unpeeled the the whole thing several hours later. A decaying, dripping toxic odyssey of texture. I’ll search it up and post it tomorrow.
      But back to “Momoth”. As great as the wall piece mentioned above was, I was even more struck by “Momoth” and by Kazoun’s other similar larger scale glass-bubble-bestrewn pieces. Not only does “Momoth” feel engrossing & transporting as an in-person environment, but many of the stills that emerged have real unsettling alien impact and work on their own right compositionally. There’s social commentary here too, but not so much that it turns the work into an idea or agit piece. How so?
     Think about Mother’s milk, the first nutrient, the essential lifestuff, misunderstood & ignored by those in need. Reminds me of how challenging it’s been for U.S. mothers to re-embrace breastfeeding after decades of misinformation about how painful and tedious & challenging it is (it needn’t be), after decades of downplaying how vital it is as a nutrient source, after decades of false instruction in formula feeding as a superior alternative. Reminds me in addition of how humans have chosen to detach from and ignore old and ancient traditions in favor of the convenience of the technological new. All of are ignoring or distancing ourselves from our strange and scary-seeming Momoths aren’t we? Old ancient reminders from the past of how to ground our lives in our bodies; in practices which have kept humans in balance with ourselves and with nature for millenia. Whether it’s what we eat, how we think, how we cope, how we stay healthy, how we build, how we grow food, how we feed infants. We know what’s right, the gifts are there. And they will stay there unclaimed.
     Outstanding work that is as tactile, sensual & kinetic as it is cerebral & emotional. Kazoun has a strong visual & material language all her own and I’m looking forward to what she does next.

For more by Kazoun, including more about Momoth, please go here.


[posted by C Way at 11:20 PM]


[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| installations ]

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