Paul Myoda

By Hirsch, Faye | Artforum International, November 1995 | Go to article overview

Paul Myoda


Hirsch, Faye, Artforum International


In Paul Myoda's recent show, gawky, faux-rock sculptures snaked along the walls or dangled from the ceiling; one, with gaping maw, remained rooted to the floor. Cast in Styrofoam and gypsum resin with artificial stone aggregate, these varied creatures presented polyrnorphous, loosely modeled surfaces, which in the sculptural tradition typically signal a susceptibility to forces beyond individual control. But Myoda's works could not be further from overwrought Hellenistic figures or Rodin's fallen heroes; in fact, then. look more like props for a Godzilla flick. In their incarnation as Claymations, in Myoda's video Gargoyles, 1995, the creatures emit guttural sounds somewhere between human speech and animal noises, burbling "gar gar" and "goyle" in gravelly voices as they jerkily engage in what resemble mating rituals. Their genders, however, are as vague as their outlines. Nebulous and hybrid, Myoda's monsters embody a shifting alterity - the young artist's de rigueur retort to the recent deluge of work based on identity politics.

Myoda's effectiveness depends, it seems, on his medium. His sculptures are easily dismissed as "dumb" art, while the disorienting, somewhat surreal atmosphere of the videos lends this otherwise puerile project a dark humor. Myoda's first video, Straw Man, 1993, starring a grotesquely libidinous scarecrow, falls somewhere between The Wizard of Oz and Salo; Gargoyles presents a kind of creation myth loosely organized into a narrative in which Hesiod's Theogany meets Gumby. It opens with a baby monster crawling into the head of an adult monster, and ends with the midget's emergence from the adult's anus (turning the patriarchal myth of the birth of Athena on its derriere). …

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