PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Participants and Caretakers

 Nocture of the Limax maximus
Paula Hayes
MoMA

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.”

6 comments

  1. Thank you for posting this! You really spent time seeing my work and reading my blog entries. Not everyone has the attention span and interest to dig deeper. I very much appreciate that, Would you like me to explain personally the inner thoughts I have regarding creating this commission since clearly it perplexes you? I do have an interest in the wonder of a future of art that includes maintaining life, as gardens do. What may come off as unrelated theory in my blog postings do have connections to my long history of being an artist and I would enjoy a dialog with such a knowledgeable person as you if you would too! In any event I thank you for your interest, time and thoughtfulness.

  2. Thank you for posting this! You really spent time seeing my work and reading my blog entries. Not everyone has the attention span and interest to dig deeper. I very much appreciate that, Would you like me to explain personally the inner thoughts I have regarding creating this commission since clearly it perplexes you? I do have an interest in the wonder of a future of art that includes maintaining life, as gardens do. What may come off as unrelated theory in my blog postings do have connections to my long history of being an artist and I would enjoy a dialog with such a knowledgeable person as you if you would too! In any event I thank you for your interest, time and thoughtfulness.

  3. this is another paula writing. i am so moved by this work — speechless. and of course phyllis brings it to us, her readers, with her exquisite eye and sensibility.to paula: i am in los angeles. might your work come here?love you, phyllis —

  4. this is another paula writing. i am so moved by this work — speechless. and of course phyllis brings it to us, her readers, with her exquisite eye and sensibility.

    to paula: i am in los angeles. might your work come here?

    love you, phyllis —

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