The Momo Challenge, its bogus claims of youths being seduced into suicide, and the ensuing media hysteria, have all been debunked. Schools, news groups, and even Kim Kardashian were all fooled into believing that Momo the evil spirit was actually endangering people. To date, no actual deaths have been linked to Momo, though Internet hoaxers have tried to connect it to unrelated crimes and deaths. However, while Momo is a hoax, the frightening, bird-woman sculpture that inspired the whole debacle did once exist.
In 2016, Japanese artist Keisuke Aiso debuted his piece at a Tokyo art fair. Called Mother Bird, its large eyes, disturbing grin, and avian features were supposed to be that of an ubume, a type of Japanese demon said to haunt areas looking for the baby she lost in childbirth. Aiso’s sculpture also has traits from the Greek mythological harpy, a half-bird, half-woman hybrid.
Aiso admits that he was happy at first when heard about the Momo Challenge because his sculpture got little to no attention or media exposure at the Vanilla Art Fair.
In his words “When Momo first appeared, it was good in a way that it had received some attention. I was pleased, but the way that it has been used now is very unfortunate.”
Having your work linked to child suicides, even if the majority of them are made up, is far from desirable attention.
Aiso adds “People do not know if it is true or not, but apparently the children have been affected and I do feel a little responsible for it. I feel like I am in trouble but it’s all out of my hands.”
Bird Mother was made from rubber and other natural materials, so she disintegrated and rotted over time. Eventually Aiso had to throw her out. She only lives on in a mask a friend made for him.
Aiso admits that Bird Mother’s slow decay was terrifying to behold, claiming”If you’d have seen it in the state it was in, it would have probably looked even more terrifying.”
Still, the artist wants the world to understand that Momo was never real and that his sculpture is gone, declaring “The children can be reassured Momo is dead—she doesn’t exist and the curse is gone.”