More about Chit Chat

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Chit Chat by Tala Madani appears to be a silent, stop-motion painting video of men mansplaining to each other until they vomit.

Upon seeing it, it’s almost unavoidable to think, “Ohhh, I get it…Tala Madani is a feminist,” what with the men making fools of themselves by vomiting over and over again at two thousand images per minute until they fill up the room with vomit and even create other men/devils out of that vomit. It seems like the moral of the work is abundantly clear, but it’s not. It’s true that Madani is a feminist, but Chit Chat is not a feminist rant about the dangers of excluding the female point of view. She explains that, “they’re a little like self-portraits” and when Negar Azimi, a contributor for the New Yorker suggested that, "their buffoonery might feel particularly timely in the Trump era,” Madani was firmly in disagreement. The point that Madani tries to communicate with the image of men vomiting all over the place is that “vomit trajectory is very much a reference to language.” It’s about the inability of people to take that jumbled up lump of thoughts, feelings, and ideas and accurately put it into words that others can understand and relate to – something I’m sure all of us experience often, if not daily. (I mean hopefully all of us, otherwise my therapist is lying to me.)

Madani’s art is about finding comfort in being human – no matter how gross, inconvenient, or just plain mortifying that may be. Unfortunately, this also means facing that fact that we are “primitive beings propelled by hubris and ignorance” as the gallery walls of MoMA so delicately put it. Humorous expulsion of bodily fluids aside, Chit Chat depicts an escalation of conflict apparent in the increasingly angry faces of the men. And soon Chit Chat isn’t just chit chat anymore. It assumes “a more sinister connotation as a euphemism for conflict, brutality, and war.” Don’t let the man in the pink party hat at the beginning of the video fool you, this video is about anger and violence.

And speaking of anger and violence, Chit Chat and six other works by Iranian, Iraqi, and Sudanese artists were rehung in the fifth floor galleries of MoMA in response to President Trump’s travel ban on January 27, 2017. These artworks replaced pieces by Picasso, Picabia, and Matisse, and plaques beside them read, “This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens are being denied entry into the United States, according to a presidential executive order issued on Jan. 27, 2017. This is one of several such artworks from the Museum’s collection installed throughout the fifth-floor galleries to affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to this Museum as they are to the United States.” Aside from being the right thing to do, this is just incredibly badass and makes us love MoMA all the more.