The Momo challenge is an internet hoax that nevertheless caused tons of parental stress and responses from Kim Kardashian and YouTube. The phenomenon — a shadowy figure goading kids into suicide by contacting them online — went viral despite being fake because it played on parents’ worst fears about their kids’ online lives. It was abetted by a uniquely horrifying photograph of a statue that has since been destroyed.
“Mother Bird” was a statue that was created by Japanese artist Keisuke Aiso for Link Factory, a special effects company. In a phrase, it’s fucking terrifying. Most of the images associated with Momo show only the face, a bug-eyed monstrosity with a beaked visage and crooked, oversized smile. But the real horror comes when you see the whole thing: narrow shoulders that lead to scaly legs and prehistoric claws.
Aiso is a horror artist who never imagined that his work, inspired by a Japaneses folktale about a woman who dies in childbirth and comes back to haunt the place where she died, would be put to such dark uses on the internet. Thankfully, he told the Sun that the statue has been destroyed.
The statue, which was made out of rubber and natural oils, made its debut at an art gallery in Tokyo in 2016. Aiso says that it wasn’t designed to last forever, and that he threw it away last fall as it was starting to rot.
“I have mixed feels about the people who have done this,” Aiso told the newspaper. “On one hand they have caused me nothing but trouble, but on the other hand as an artist, I have a little sense of appreciation that my art piece has been seen across the world.”
With some guilt for how his art was hijacked, Aiso had words for the kids who were scared in part by his work now that the statue is gone.
“The children can be reassured Momo is dead – she doesn’t exist and the curse is gone.”