The audience squirted ketchup on us, threw oatmeal and dog food at us and screamed in anger. We weren’t sure if they were trying to complement our work or if they really hated it,” explains Morri, one of three members of artist collective MOMS, when discussing the group’s latest performance.
MOMS’ performance, entitled ‘Piss at Us’, was part of the Artisit? art festival that took place in Galway, Ireland last month. They got a huge space to work in, invited some friends, including acclaimed Austrian art group Gelitin, and built a large walkin sculpture out of scaffolding and other material they found lying around. It took two days of intense work to finish the masterpiece and decorate it with handmade heads and penises, toilet paper and ketchup bottles.
On the opening night, the audience crowded the site. People walked around the sculpture while throwing greasy stuff at the group of half-naked artists who were trapped like animals in a fight pit they had built the sculpture around. “In the end, we started to piss on each other to keep us warm. I mean, we were freezing,” American artist Schuyler says. “This project was the most difficult I’ve ever done. Both physically and mentally,” Morri continues. Mundi, the third MOMS member keeps drawing on his wallet and nods in agreement.
Pissing at a New York Gala Dinner
MOMS is made up of Morri and Mundi, who met at The Icelandic Academy of the Arts, and Schuyler, who first moved to Iceland in 2005. The threesome is known for going unconventional ways in their art creations and have planned numerous events and exhibited both in Iceland and abroad. Their most recent project in Iceland was for the Sequences Real-time art festival last month, where they put up an exhibition on page 444 on RUV Teletext. The exhibition was accessible to all TV owners in the country who could view their art without even leaving the living room couch.
The ongoing collaboration with aforementioned art ensemble Gelitin has brought MOMS some international attention, for example at the Venice Biennial in June this year. The crew ended up shuttling people in a leaking homemade Viking boat and competing in an international swimming contest. They were all surprised to win.
Today, MOMS has become an important part of the Gelitin group. “I guess we’re like their little brother or something,” Schuyler says. When asked how the collaboration came about Morri explains, “In June 2006 one of our teachers asked us if we wanted to work with Austrian artists who were to exhibit at gallery Kling & Bang. We had no idea who they were at that time. We met them at the gallery, showed them our sketchbooks and these really strange guys liked our work. We ended up taking part in their performance, called ‘Hugris’.”
After the Kling & Bang adventure, the two art groups kept in touch and in January this year Gelitin invited their kid-brothers to a party in New York. They ended up assisting Gelitin at an arty gala dinner in gallery Deitch Projects. With handmade bucket hats on their heads and high heels on their feet, the group flashed their genitals through holes cut out of their tights while the dressed-up party guests drank champagne and sampled fine dishes. “The fancy arty people from New York sat at their tables, eating and talking snobby about the exhibition. In the meantime we climbed into the air and built a huge sculpture above their heads,” Morri explains. “In high heels!” Schuyler adds.
When the monstrous structure was finished, the grand finale was about to shock some diners. Standing in a row with the guests underneath them, they peed in each other’s bucket hats. “It was like a human fountain,” Morri continues: “After I had finished, a really weird guy came up to me and asked, “Is the pee for sale?” I told him we hadn’t decided.”
MOMS’ involvement with Gelitin’s provocative performances has got them into plenty of weird situations that usually involve stupidity, nudity, urinating in public and some other crazy heat-of-themoment ideas. Why are they usually naked? “It’s freeing,” they tell me.
The teamwork continues and in December MOMS will fly off to Paris to do a show again with Gelitin at the Paris Museum of Modern Art, scheduled to open in February. After that, the only plan for MOMS is to keep working together for as long as they can stand each other. “Me and Mundi have even thought about marrying and adopting Schuyler. I read in the paper that the church will be allowing gay marriages, so we can finally do it! We are thinking about having it like a performance,” Morri concludes.
For more info on MOMS, see: www.moms.ms