Nocture of the Limax maximus
MoMA has always been a haven for me; sometimes it has been a kind of heaven. In High School, we used to cut class, hop a train and roam around the galleries looking for the antidote to our prescribed lives. Years later I followed film-buff boyfriend to the basement auditorium of MoMA to watch vintage films. When I worked around the corner from the museum, I often spent my lunch hour wandering the galleries looking for inspiration. MoMA has always been a second home.
The new show Nocture of the Limax maximus by Paula Hayes is a mini-show and some may question what it is doing in the museum. Paula Hayes makes terrariums, small and large, from blown glass in amoeba-like shapes.
Hayes tell us in her MoMA blog that “The Limax maximus – the Leopard slug referred to in the title of my commissioned installation on view in MoMA’s lobby – is a “simultaneous hermaphrodite” that is not capable of self-fertilization.”
“…The areas that fascinate me most are the comparisons of female roles in not only art as an object, but in the practice of art making itself.
…Living art literally involves the attentive and continuous role of participants and caretakers in all aspects of the continuum of its manifestation and life; this reality is at its core – a core that is performed by humans along any point in the spectrum of gender.”
Viewing the two installations in the lobby of MoMA, I have no idea what the connection is between these intellectual theories and the terrariums.
What I understand is the immediate response one feels to this world of begonias, ferns, and tiny tropical plants. It’s hard to walk past and not pay attention to this green world. It’s a special kind of garden.
Ann Temkin, chief curator of the museum’s department of painting and sculpture, says of Hayes’ work “…you don’t need a Ph.D. in art history to get.”
I agree you don’t need a degree to enjoy the work, but I feel you do need a translator to understand what Hayes means when she says “It is the essential that there be an internal, collaborative maintenance of the life of the work so that it can exist as an artwork.”