Mo Mo the Abstract Photographer

Mo Mo 默默, Shanghai poet, arts organizer and editor of the highly influential journal Coquette 撒娇 has, like many other poets in recent years, taken to visual art. Mo’s chosen medium is photography, or “Abstract Photography,” one example of which:

The abstract can broadly be drawn into two (at least) categories, fundamentally distinguished by the absence or presence of a title. The title, it seems to me, brings the abstract work one or more steps closer to the figurative, to the articulable.

In Mo Mo’s case there are titles to his images, the above, for instance  有时候感觉自己有很多自己 (“sometimes I feel there are many selves of the self”). The question I wish to pose is: in the domain of visual-verbal intersection, does the poet have a kind of edge, a special knack or gift for negotiating the territorial overlap between the language, such as it is, of the mind’s eye and eye itself?  In that case, perhaps, we speak (?) more of synesthesiac harmonizing and less of communication, bridges, or other ferrying of some “thing.”  So what do the “many selves of the self” say visually? Truth is, not much to me at least.

But there is a visceral quality image itself, something almost delicious, or even luscious about this imagery. The harmony, in other words, is less with the words, than with an eye for elemental and material experience.

what we miss every day

In this instance we have  “每天,你错过了什么”  (What do we miss, day after day?). Here, by contrast to the image above, the hints of an urban scene, akin to Mo Mo’s Shanghai, enveloping built environment, figures subjected to warmth and light. What they “miss”? Again, unclear, though in this case apparitions amidst urban scape certainly not unfamiliar theme.


In the above image (世界大同后的第一个早晨), though, I find a more compelling vision. The “first morning after great harmony” is both soothing and unsettling, dynamic in idea and image. Technology is convened to a purpose here, a fact of production and a thematic element, the thing that “brings us all together,” for better or worse.


One thought on “Mo Mo the Abstract Photographer

  1. […] of an article, from the year 2000, written by Shanghai poet, abstract photographer (about whom I’ve written on this blog), and arts organizer Mo Mo. It is Mo’s take on fellow poet-artist Yan Li’s […]

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