The word spread rapidly over social media. Parents and child caregivers were alarmed. Children are getting frightened. A scary-looking woman is threatening to harm them or their loved ones if they did not follow her instructions.
That is the ‘Momo Challenge’. It started in Mexico as a challenge for the members of a certain Facebook group to establish communication with an unknown number, despite being accompanied by a warning, the Peruvian online newsletter, La Republica, reported in July 25 last year. The game went viral through a Whatsapp account which comes with the name ‘Momo’.
Two famous Japanese personalities were allegedly linked to this ‘Momo’ outbreak. Midori Hayashi, a well-known doll artist in Japan is receiving hate messages on Messenger. She recently posted some of these messages on her Facebook account. She insists that she did not create that hideous creature circulating on the Internet. The artist did not mention the name ‘Momo’ but calls the image ‘Mother Bird’ which she credits to another Japanese artist named Keisuke Aiso.
Keisuke Aiso is a Japanese sculptor and special effects artist who created the image which was made popular by the Momo challenge. The original name of his artwork is ‘Mother Bird’. He submitted this work for display in the Vanilla Art Gallery, a yearly exhibition of scary sculptures, held in Japan last 2016. A photograph of Aiso’s Mother Bird began circulating across Latin American countries after this art exhibition.
In an interview with Jonathan Reilly of The Sun, Aiso assures children that Momo is gone. They need not be be afraid anymore. The artist had already destroyed this frightful creature. Keisuke Aiso felt responsible for the fear and anxiety that his art has caused on children across the globe. The artist has nothing to do with the nasty Whatsapp challenge.
Aiso admits that his sculpture is truly terrifying. It was inspired from a Japanese folklore called ‘Ubume’. The story is about a pregnant woman who dies during childbirth. She is said to appear in the image of a half-bird, half-woman form just like Aiso’s sculpture. The folklore tells that this lady appears to haunt the place where she had given birth.
Although Aiso admits that he intended to scare people when he made the sculpture, the Japanese artist did not expect to cause so much harm as the infamous Momo challenge did. He was happy that his work had attracted attention internationally but he did not regret having destroyed this frightening art piece. He also received hate messages from people after the Momo outbreak.
The Japanese artist told The Sun that Momo ‘doesn’t exist anymore‘ and ‘it was never meant to last‘. What remains of this Japanese yokai is its one eye and Keisuke Aiso plans to recycle this rubber piece into another artwork.