Come as a shock: Suddenly the child has a gun in his hand. The animation without sound, made of paint and brush, starts off innocently, with a point of jerky becoming even more jerky. Movie scenes from world history appear in black and white on the pink back wall. Neanderthals, the discovery of fire, the first cave paintings. Once the fish grows into an identifiable embryo, it receives a remote control and closes the film. Three seconds later, the film continues uninterrupted, with hieroglyphs, biblical stories, and the Industrial Revolution. Fetus still seemed interested until the movie got to the present. The child pulls a gun from the crease of the body. Before you understand what is happening, the child shoots several times at the screen. The light shines through the holes in the abdominal wall. The unborn child dissolves.
Tala Madani leaves the viewer confused. Is this a comment on US arms policy? Protest against TV culture? Appeal to fewer children? The short animated movie of 2019 called the womb It can be seen at KM21 in The Hague, in an exhibition mainly displaying Madani’s latest work. Born in Iran in 1981, the artist has been living in the United States since she was 14 years old. She graduated from Yale Academy of Art as an illustrator, worked as a resident at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in 2007 and 2008 and now lives and works in Los Angeles.
Madani has long been known as an artist who has never drawn or painted women. She was even seen as the opposite of her fellow countrywoman Shirin Neshat, who was with her film women without men She presented a story in 2009 in which women tried to live without men. In her first major retrospective, in Stockholm and Malmö in 2013, Madani outlined her choice of male subject matter as a natural response. If I wanted to portray a woman in a few brushstrokes, I had to give her breasts, or a lot of hair. I immediately turned into a sexual figure, and took on a sexual accusation that I didn’t want. So the women left, and the men seemed very happy about that.
In another interpretation, she said, many of the women depicted in art history, have been put off. The men in her paintings and cartoons, often drawn quickly and loosely, are in contact with the cartoonist, they are more kind of people. They are often with a cheerfully creative group in their activities: they all roll on their backs, hammer one in the belly with forks, or one step into a bun. Another constant is that the space it’s in isn’t identifiable – wallpaper painted evenly, sometimes a little color difference, but it’s impossible to tell if it’s inside or outside. “I put them there and I can take them anywhere,” Madani said. “This way I am a part of a man’s world that I would normally not be able to access.”
men among themselves Touching and rarely show typical macho traits. Sometimes they look like asexual dolls, other times they are overtly concerned with their profuse body hair or their genitals. This body can turn against them, as can be seen in The Hague. There are two animated films from 2018: In the first movie, a huge red penis falls on a group of men. These men – puppets lined in black on a white background – seemed at first capable of holding the thing, so that they were able to hold the giant, at least four times its size, upright. But as they stand proudly looking at the score, the bright red thing begins to slap them, even more forcefully, until the males have only a few points left. In the video played below, a man is alone in the cinema and thanks to the reflection on his bald head, it can be seen that he is watching this same video. Next, the camera zooms out and we see the guy’s penis break free from his jeans, grow bigger and bigger to brutal length, and hit the guy with some hard punches.
It’s likely to be imagining “you’re chasing your dick,” which then turns out to be disastrous for the men with whom they run. You can also see it as a more general metaphor for focusing on big ambitions and the desire to prove it. But Madani herself does not want to give the order morally, as she regularly asserts in interviews. The ambiguity of the story is deliberate, the story often arises from some kind of euphoria, perhaps a gut feeling. At the 2011 Madani exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau in Amsterdam, curator Kerstin Winking described the outcome as “sometimes gleaming like precious diamonds or faithful partners in crime, at other times as ugly and vicious as manipulative monsters or goblins”.
Meanwhile, a new puck larger than civilian brushes appeared, in the form of mother shit† Children were present at her work for some time among the male characters, sometimes as know-it-alls, sometimes as innocent spirits. After Madani gave birth to her second child and started drawing again for the first time, she drew a child. She wanted to get what she saw so much from her system. The mother I drew next to her failed, the picture was so emaciated that she immediately erased it. And during that sweeping, the mother became nauseous. She later said, “Suddenly the picture is no longer scary but rather attractive.” “I thought: I can live with a mother like that.”
The fan boards, which seemed a bit superficial, take on a new charge
The only mother Madani knew well from art history was Mary – who was photographed and loved endlessly. But she is a virgin, and therefore not a mother of flesh and blood. There was no contemporary image of the bad mother, the mother for whom there is no other description in Dutch, and she is in German RapnMatter And in English it is called mother shit. And Madani discovered that this shit, too, was a good metaphor for those raw feelings she wants to portray.
I consciously embraced the mother’s point of view. Her mother-in-law had previously said that motherhood would affect her work. Madani: And I said: No, I have my work, I paint, it does not change. So I initially tried to deal with the idea of having a child. But how feminine is it to make sure you’re not too feminine? Then I decided to just let it go.
In filth motherboards – which unfortunately cannot be seen in The Hague – the excrement-stained mother is surrounded and attacked by naked white children, with beautiful nicknames such as chitty de milo or shit mom (disco kids), Bee first dinner Two naked children are standing at a stationary table, about to make a complete mess. The exhibition at KM21 pays a lot of attention to a new stage in the development of nonsense: in the animation of a mother – or a woman – who is alone at home and this makes him desperate.
For the first time in Madani, the wallpaper consists of images of existing interiors. There is a location, environment, time when the animation is shown. And what’s new, too: There’s ambient noises, birds chirping and slithering and chattering when dirty mommy enters the picture. Anxiety comes from doing nothing. Dirty mother walks in the modern classic living room, to the bedrooms and dining room, sits and lies everywhere, her feet and hands leave – Sorry if butterfly – Trail the stools in the back, as the mirror stains them with it. She masturbates on the couch, causing her to make a huge hole in the lower part of her body. She wipes the magazines off the table and throws her head over that table – then rebuilds that head.
Despite the comedic notes, the perspective here is oppressive. Madani admitted that it is all too easy to blame the pandemic alone, even though the enforced isolation has affected her work. Even more exciting is the animation where you look at an Italian mountain town as a dirty mother jumps out the window and hangs from the balcony for minutes. Nobody interferes, nobody sounds the alarm.
A civilian is not a person glorifies life, as it is influenced more by Julia Kristeva and Jacques Lacan than by American dream† The mothers’ shit physicality is reminiscent of the work of Maria Lassnig, who, like Madani, used animation and humor extensively. And like Lassnig, its predicate is bold.
In the last room it is also clear why the exhibition does not open with the latest paintings: perhaps they are more intense. concrete suicide The series is called 2022, and it consists of images of silhouettes over a building in shades of gray. Or from a spot of blood on the ground. Just like struggling mothers, Madani is once again imagining something we’d rather not imagine. Even the new series of fan boards at the start of the show, which seemed a bit sketchy upon entry, was given new meaning. Air circulation has become one of the solutions during the Corona pandemic. There will be a change, a new wind, but the rotating blades can also cause injuries. With a small canvas next to the fan, Madani explains that this new subject might just be a temporary situation: I’ve painted turd in a jar, on a pretty purple background. There’s a good chance you’ll open that jar again when the Corona panic really subsides.
Tala Madani, Until August 21 at KM21 in The Hague.