Momma Tried on Southern Identity and Becoming a Nudie Mag Cyborg

Crystal Clear  ft. Shirley Someone by Theo Eliezer / Momma Tried

Crystal Clear ft. Shirley Someone by Theo Eliezer / Momma Tried

Momma Tried is one of our favorite southern tastemakers. A self-described conceptual "nudie mag", MT exists only in print form. Conceptualized in 2011 by Louisiana natives Micah Learned and Theo Eliezer, the magazine has published two internationally distributed editions so far. 

In preparation for the release of Issue 3, the team have launched a fundraising campaign to kick off the next phase of their ambitious new magazine. 

"Since Issue 2, Momma has become sentient and is now aware of her own mortality as a print object," they describe on their Kickstarter website. "In an effort to resist obsolescence and death, she's attempting to turn herself into a cyborg."

WUSSY recently spoke to the team behind Momma Tried about their new moves.

You've received a lot of love and support through your previous campaigns on Kickstarter. How do you hope to raise the bar with issue 3?

We have! Momma Tried, like so many art projects, is only possible through crowdfunding. It just wouldn’t go to print without the love and support of lots and lots people, especially those who pre-order each issue of the magazine. Part of our way of honoring that faith and the opportunity to create that it affords, is to pour even more love and ambition and time back into the magazine.

Issue 3 is the bridge from what the magazine has been to what it is becoming. One way we’re representing this transition is through a companion augmented reality app that will be free to download for iOS and Android. When looking at the magazine through the Issue 3 app, the printed page itself will appear to animate, images that once were frozen in place will move about the page, and texts will rearrange to reveal hidden messages from within Momma’s neural network.


The additional "augmented reality" element sounds incredible (and complicated). How did this come about?

Last Summer we were talking about what we could do to elevate the next Issue of the magazine, and Theo brought up how inspired she was by an old interview with Takashi Murakami in which he described his paintings as having been infected by a virus. It was right around this time that I discovered work from the poet Amaranth Borsuk’s “Between Page and Screen,” an AR poetry book, which used an early version of AR technology. It really resonated with both of us, but at first we didn’t have a conceptual framework to support the addition of this technology into the project. It was about a month later when Theo called me late one night to tell me that she had figured it out. “Momma, the physical magazine, has become sentient.” She said, “she’s attempting to turn herself into a cyborg!” Honestly, it took me a minute. But, Theo was right, that’s just what’s happening.

Being based in New Orleans, how does your city influence and inform the content of your publication?

We honestly wouldn’t be making this magazine if we were living anywhere else. It’s as much a result of New Orleans as it is our Southern identity. I was born and raised in South Louisiana, and Theo has lived here since she was in high school. I had the idea for the magazine in 2011 when politicians in New Orleans and across Louisiana were infatuated with the idea of “brain gain,” as if we needed to look elsewhere to find intelligence and good ideas. This insulting political platform somehow spurned a desire to make a weird, ambitious, nudie artist magazine. With Momma Tried, we were hoping to portray and prop-up our own little microcosm of artists, writers, and iconoclasts by publishing an internationally distributed magazine that really challenged preconceived notions of what could be produced in the South, while also doing so on our own distinct terms, with an imagination and drive that is uniquely shaped by this place and our sense of it.


Tell us about the inception of MT. Where do you hope to see the publication in a year?

Momma Tried started with the idea to make a super local newsprint-style nude zine with our friends. As we got started working on it we realized that if we were going to spend time on it, it should be conceptually and aesthetically ambitious, which is how it turned into such a substantial publication with an extended universe of related Momma Tried artworks and interactive installations. We don’t have any real advertisements in the magazine (all of the ads are satirical) so it’s kind of ridiculous that we decided to create such an expensive project with no funding, but being totally absurd with the amount of investment we’ve put into this sprawling, ambitious concept is totally a part of our art practice at this point.

As we evolve the story arc of Momma’s cyborg transition we hope to explore more mixed reality technologies with both our print publication and art installations. We’ve recently started talking about developing a Momma Tried virtual reality experience for the spring, and by next year we should be accepting submissions of art and writing for Issue 4!



Who are your biggest influences?

Yoko Ono and George Maciunas are reoccurring references for us in terms of artwork that we really admire. Patti Smith is just an all around hero and trailblazer for how to live a creative life and deal with being an artist and all that that entails. This past year we got super into the author Donna Haraway and the roboticist Masahiro Mori, and they both had a hand in shaping what we were thinking about as we made this issue of the magazine.


What are you listening to?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Brian Eno, specifically Eno - Harmonia ‘76 - “Tracks and Traces.” It’s really good, but it’s not particularly fun. Theo and I have been stupidly overly worked for a long time, and I have a particularl piece of writing for the magazine that I’ve been having a hard time transitioning in and out of working on as we fundraise for Issue 3. The other day she gave me the great advice to pick one album and listen to it every time I worked on that one thing and only when I worked on it. “Tracks and Traces” was the first album that worked, I’ve listened to it at least twenty times in the past week and a half.

When I’m not working on that one thing, I’m actually still listening to the playlists that Theo made for each of our three nude photo shoots for Issue 3. So many of our friends fell in love with these playlists that we decided to make them available during the pre-sale as cassette mix tapes!


The Issue 3 fundraising campaign closes on July 19th.
Click here to support Momma Tried!