Text: Samuel Ogunfojuri
ODD!TY: Can you share a specific challenge or failure you remember?
Marjan: It was harder for me to get shows as I got older, because most galleries want bleeding edge technology art from men or younger women. But I still had a lot to innovate and create, so in 2016, I decided why not hack my work into galleries and museums as part of my art practice with my conceptual #arthacks project on Instagram. They have since gone viral a few times. Now I gear my art practice for the #arthacks. And the beauty of net art is nobody knows or even cares what gender I am, or how old I am, whether I’m wealthy or not, or who I have schmoozed, because it’s all about the work. The internet can sometimes be the great equalizer that everything else is not. And the new attention economy has created a tremendous amount of hunger for creativity and art.
ODD!TY: Can you share one of the best moments in your career so far (and why)?
Marjan: It’s a tie between 4 things: When my Augmented Reality Chronometric Sculpture, Autonomous, was exhibited in the original Smithsonian museum building last spring. When my Baisser at Mary Boone #arthack hit 2.2 million views on the Art Gates Instagram post. When I played live improvised animation on stage in a 500 seat theater for the Visual Music Marathon in 2009 funded by the Rockefeller Fund. And lastly, when I went viral in 1996 during the DOTCOM era, and my marjan.com domain crashed from all the hits.
ODD!TY: What is your strongest motivational force?
Marjan: The urge to make art that is a singularity, in every way.
ODD!TY: Has your relation and reaction to your own work changed in any way since.
Marjan: The #arthacks are pushing my creativity in ways that almost nothing else that I’ve ever done has. Some of it is because of Instagram and the wave that comes back from social media. I notice it in other viral CG artists who do unique work on Instagram too, it’s like innovation on steroids with every gram. For the art fairs I do my #arthacks as the fairs are happening, so its 2-3 days from idea to posting. So the spontaneous, improvisational and aggregated nature of it, using videos found on Instagram alongside other elements, creates for a lot of unpredictable magic. But the best part has been incorporating social justice issues into them and finding a real audience for this type of provocative, radical and disruptive art. Galleries can’t always take the same risks that I routinely do, and that is what net art is for.
ODD!TY: How do you respond to criticism?
Marjan: Not very well, but I have developed a thicker skin over the years with experience, so I let it go faster. The trick for me is to feel it and allow the hurt, but not dwell on it. I’ve learned to move on after feeling it.
ODD!TY: Have you had any challenges balancing work / private life?
Marjan: Yes, for me they’re usually the same thing, so I gave up balancing them a long time ago, now I just accept its all art. But I also accept that art involves major down time, time spent in nature, navel gazing, leisure, doing nothing, socializing, fun, exercise, and self-nourishment, in addition to long hours of work. I find that if I don’t compartmentalize or ration out work/private life, and treat it all as part of the same art practice, it works better for me.
ODD!TY: What is the most valuable lesson you wish to take with yourself in the rest of your creative journey?
Marjan: Remember it took 14.3 billion years since the Big Bang for this moment to exist, cherish it!
ODD!TY: Do you have a favorite piece of creative work and why?
Marjan: So hard to pick just one, because I have a few favorites for every decade, but I’m also always into the most recent work so I would say the most viral #arthacks that I have, which have each garnered several million views, Baisser at Mary Boone and the Glitch Goddess from Art Basel Miami 2018. The internet knows what to pick and it’s right!
ODD!TY: One key piece of advice you want to pass on to any aspiring creative?
Marjan: If you are willing to pull it out of your navel on your own terms, don’t be follower, or a stealer, do it, become the singularity that you’re meant to be, because the same 14.3-billion-year old universe was created so you could become what you are, as something that has never existed before. Your art should be as unique as your fingerprint, that’s true artistic agency imo, and just as irreplicable. That’s how everything advances and progresses, the purpose of our universe.
This ODD!TY Magazine online exclusive has been produced by
Artist: Marjan Moghaddam