ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Life Worlds and Image Worlds

Welcomcom to Mocmoc-City


Swiss television channel SF1 on Com&Com's MocMoc-Project and the debate in Romanshorn. Video, 6:03 min.

The Swiss village of Romanshorn near Lake Constance suffers from a problem of identity: it has no idea about the origins of its name, and why a horn comprises part of the coat of arms. So the artist duo Com&Com came up with an emblem and a founding legend. The project: to create an identity by way of social sculpture. The scandal: the ‘recovered’ mascot of the city Mocmoc is almost as much rooted in Swiss traditions as the fictive entity Pokémon. We spoke with Johannes Hedinger, one half of the duo, about global pictorial worlds and local identities.

FS: With the legend, which was apparently found in the city archives surrounding the Horn of Mocmoc and the fisher boy, Roman, you won an art-in-construction competition in Romanshorn (Switzerland) in 2003. A few months after the statue of Mocmoc was revealed a village dispute erupted followed by a referendum. Did Mocmoc survive the turmoil in Romanshorn?

JH: Yes, Mocmoc still stands. After all, at a referendum the village voted in favour of the statue remaining – and even the opponents had to agree that Mocmoc possesses immense potential as a source of identity. The project continues to grow – even without us. The baker in Romanshorn produces marzipan-schokomocmöcli, and Mocmoc appears in advertisements – the development no longer has anything to do with us. Romanshorn has meanwhile really become connected with Mocmoc.

FS: Whenever discussion centers on globalization, questions of local or national identity are always part of the debate. In Mocmoc one now rather tends to consider Japanese animé as local tradition. How did Romanshorn respond to the appearance of its emblem?

JH: Aesthetically, the MocMoc figure is interchangeable with any arbitrary Disney or Pokémon figure, which, for the upper middle classes of Romanshorn, signified a thorn in the side. There were people who said that they would prefer a ‘heap of rust’ on the plaza, since they would at least know that it was art. Thus, aesthetics emerges because our target groups were before all else children. We showed the first Mocmoc sketches to children who said: ‘But it should have bigger eyes’. So we made the eyes bigger – it was meant to work with the target group. In the end, it was considerations of ‘strategic marketing’ about how one can turn recipients into co-producers. And the entire discourse, the 300 newspaper articles, the TV reports, children’s drawings and the referendum which followed were also part of the project.

FS: Meanwhile, Mocmoc has become a real product of culture – there are music songs and a radio play, T-Shirts, two Websites, a recurring children’s festival etc. Which role does the project play now, as part Com&Com’s work?

JH: Mocmoc was a first turning point insofar as it was the first work in which Marcus Gossolt and I did not ourselves participate. But we are still present by way of the reversed name. The occupants of Romanshorn noticed only after half a year had passed that the name Mocmoc was in fact Com&Com spelled backwards. Thus, we now have a six-meter high monument on which on which our reverse name is shown (laughs). But before and after the existence of Mocmoc there also were other works which have to do with the creation of identity structures and their negotiation in local as well as in global spheres – something which runs through our entire oeuvre as a leitmotif.

In The Global Contemporary Com&Com presents the Mocmoc & Mermer-Project (2006-2011) - In this project Com&Com found a suitable companion for Mocmoc in Merlion, a figure developed by the Singapore Tourist Authority in the 1960s. Vistit their artist page and website for further information.


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