Category: installations

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]

Art of the Day: Stills from Paul McCarthy & Mike Kelley’s “Heidi: Midlife Crisis Trauma Center and Negative Media-Engram Abreaction Release Zone” (1992)

September 13th, 2011






       Paul McCarthy (b. 1945) & Mike Kelley (b. 1954)
       stills from Heidi: Midlife Crisis Trauma Center and Negative Media-Engram Abreaction Release Zone, 1992, video and installation (second image from top courtesy of Hauser & Wirth gallery)

     I know, I know, it’s been awhile — I should prolly rechristen to “Art of the Month” at this rate. Or “Art of the Indeterminate Multi-Weekly Interval”. And with that mega-syllabic title, I launch into another, that of today’s Art of the Day: “Heidi: Midlife Crisis Trauma Center and Negative Media-Engram Abreaction Release Zone” (1992) by Paul McCarthy & Mike Kelley.
     I saw five or ten minutes of “Heidi” in an NYC gallery years ago, I don’t remember which, might’ve been MOMA. I remember strolling about and suddenly finding my peripheral vision arrested by some kind of onscreen frenzy that disturbed me before I understood why, before I’d focused my full attention on it. I approached it and stood watching, embarrassed, compelled, fascinated, repulsed. If I remember correctly there was a man and a woman, both were manipulating some kind of mannequin torso, struggling to push what appeared to be sausages down its cavity & which exited the doll’s anus in some kind of basin of liquid. The adult figures went about their activity with haste & focus and urgency, splashing and slipping and wrangling with the doll in this weird pointless (and simultaneously deadly important) ritual of forcefeeding that sort of resembled midwifery or operating room surgery in its energy and concentrated involvement with the body. It was a weird tangle of fluid and skin and wet that suggested birth, death, defecation, abuse, parental care, discipline, emergency room, horror movie, the list goes on. It was just so stacked with meanings, so many of them charged and taboo.
     But it wasn’t just that richness of disturbing referent that compelled me to watch. It was the camera framing, the man’s monotone voiceover (disconnected from the immediate action), the direction, the focus of the piece that all helped it transcend mere grody viscera thrown in your face. A vision and a narrative structured all the onscreen juice & frenzy, even if I didn’t get to stand there long enough to see it all play out (eventually embarrassment got the better of me and I walked away). The memory of watching that video snippet remained with me for years whenever I’d see some video artist attempt to mine similar body-shock territory (rarely with anything close to the focused & thoughtful transgression I saw in that brief bit of “Heidi”).
     Fast forward about ten years to just the other day, when I was reminded of “Heidi” again, and decided finally to do some net-hunting for the artist(s) and title (I’d forgotten both years ago). After several wild weird online goose chases involving lots of amusing & pornographic Google results, I finally realized McCarthy & Kelly were the artists and “Heidi” the piece. I was thrilled. If anyone out there’s ever had an art object — be it book, poem, film or sculpture or whatever — whose title and creator you’ve forgotten gnaw away at your mind you’ll know the thrill I mean. You get this little pop of relief and excitement — because up until that moment the entire experience had begun to seem to me like some kind of incorrect dream from a decade ago, some amalgam of other artists, other videos, some bizarre sticky psychological stew I’d whipped up that had no reality-referent.
     At any rate, I didn’t find the full video, but I did manage to scrounge up some stills that (unfortunately) only hint at the sheer primal birth/sex/death/family/shit/pain/horror power this piece communicated. And I learned more about the artwork itself — it stems from co-creator McCarthy’s interest in Joanna Spyri’s 19th century novel “Heidi” (the chronicle of a young girl’s travels and experiences & Switzerland’s most well-known literary achievement) and, in his words, “consisted of a fabricated set, a group of partial and full life-size rubber figures, two large backdrop paintings, and a video tape shot entirely on the set.” (from Enjoy & see the full-length version if you can/want. Oh & in the more-info links section below is a link to a small clip of the video I found on Vimeo — be warned, it’s pretty graphic.

A short clip from “Heidi” (warning: graphic) at

More about McCarthy & Kelley’s “Heidi” at arttorrents.blogspot.

More Kelley at

More McCarthy at Hauser & Wirth.


[posted by: C Way at 2:04 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| installations ||| photography ||| sculpture ||| video/film]

Art of the Day Double: Some Honeycombs (Art by Tokujin Yoshioka and Hilary Berseth)

May 26th, 2011



       Tokujin Yoshioka
       Two examples of the Honey-Pop Armchair(2000, honeycomb paper)
       2010 exhibit at Museum.BeyondMuseum in Seoul, Korea



       Hilary Berseth
       Programmed Hive #6, 2008, honeycomb on board with wood, urethane foam, wire, metal, paint
       Source for 2nd image: .kristin

     Yoshioka’s sumptuous Honey-Pop Armchair has received a lot of praise and coverage, and rightly so. It starts out as a slim compression of chair-shaped honeycomb paper (the same kind used by Japanese paper lanterns) that’s accordioned out to full chair dimensions and then sat upon. It then assumes permanently whatever contour it takes from the first person to use it. I love so many things about this piece — the texture, the ghostly whiteness, the fact that all that superthin paper can accept a human body’s weight & then becoming a perfectly personalized object. Rather than go with an image of the chair itself, I wanted to present it in some context, so I found this image of it (above) nestled amid these big wintry giant caterpillar boa thingies from an exhibit in Seoul in 2010. The whole image is so hypnotic, ethereal. It makes me think of a sci-fi movie set, maybe the top tower floor of the despot of some permanently wintry planet.
     Paired with that is the work of Hilary Berseth. He constructs wire and wax frameworks for honeycombs and lets the bees execute his vision, resulting in fantastic, coral-like & chocolate flan hued structures. I wonder how this affects the bees, if at all? Imagining them as they go about their business, maybe something in them at the cellular level dimly sensing that they’re being bonsai’d in a way that, if perhaps not deleterious or confusing or jarring, is just noticeably different. Beautiful work in concept & execution. Thanks bees, thanks Berseth.

Please check out more of Yoshioka’s work at

More on Berseth’s work at New York Magazine.

[posted by: C Way at 11:11 PM]

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

Art of the Day (Big Fat Monday Catch up Edition): Spotlight on Canada with works by Arthur Lismer & Jon Pylypchuk

April 18th, 2011

       (click to enlarge)

       Jon Pylypchuk, Older CLoud, 2009, mixed media

       (click to enlarge)

       Arthur Lismer, Canadian Jungle, 1946, oil on canvas

       (click to enlarge)

       Jon Pylypchuk, I miss you, danger, and all it’s elements , 2006, mixed media

     Alas alas, this weekend was too jampacked for me to fit in any Art of the Day posts, so today you’re gettin 3 for 1. (Maybe I’ll make this a regular feature, Monday triples? We’ll see). Probably going to shift to an every other day thing at any rate, as a number of personal projects are way behind, and I need to scoop me out some more time however I can.
     On to the subject today: Canadian artists. Didn’t plan on the theme, just happened that the first three works I stumbled upon and loved this morning belonged to artists hailing from the land up yonder. In order of appearance then: “Older Cloud” by Jon Pylypchuk. This piece is from an exhibit of his called “The War” from 2009-2010 held at Friedrich Petzel Gallery. I love this weird rotty dogmask with its cottage-cheese face-lumps and scary bulb-eyes. Something about those burnt-marshmallow sock-ears adds this comical, cutesy edge that just amplifies the chem-warfare hamburger-lady atrocity of this mutilatoid.
      Next up’s Arthur Lismer’s “Canadian Jungle”. What a find, I love this guy. I’d never heard of him. He totally captures the threatening sinewy tangle of jungly undergrowth. So many gorgeous inter-braided shades of green here too. There’s a soft faint smudginess to his brushwork that takes the edge off the vegetal claustrophobia and allows me to sink in to some of the plusher textures. I especially like the tiny hints of sun-glinted water way up above, this tiny bit of breathing space that suddenly opens up the perspective of the painting and makes you feel like a crouching critter peering through bushes at approaching boats.
      Finally we’ve got another Pylypchuk piece: “I miss you, danger, and all it’s elements”. The title frames the sculpture very well, amplifying the unfulfilled, sedate middle age of the rumpled elephant (dog?) man in his ill-fitting suit. He looks back annoyed at you interrupting his nap (or possible masturbatory reverie). The browns, moss greens and blacks sort of trap you in his private little resentful & frustrated mind state, and you’re grateful for the relief the white of the wall affords. Like a lot of this artist’s work, this piece bridges the puppety-cute & the unsettling to great effect. 
 More of Jon Pylypchuk’s work can be found here at

 Check out more of Lismer’s work over at Bert Christensen’s Cyberspace Gallery.

All writing © copyright C. Way / 2011

[posted by: C Way at 10:54 AM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| installations ||| paintings/drawings ||| sculpture]