Havoc in The Heavenly Kingdom. Curated by Elena Filipovic

Maria Loboda
Kunsthalle Basel
24.02.1714.05.17
Press
CURA. Mousse Magazine Contemporary Art Daily
Press release

“I am aware that I am speaking
about battles that were fought,
lost, and won, and empires that
collapsed a long time ago, but
I still wonder if these historical
examples provide an eternal
warning in their recurrence.”
—Maria Loboda

Pay attention to her titles. There is subterfuge in Maria Loboda’s use of language and in her deployment of stories at once obscure, magical, or strange in the making of her art. Their historical exactitude is largely irrelevant; what matters is that they circulate and in so doing tell us something about our desires, fears, pasts, and potential futures. As a student, the artist’s first public presentation was an assembly of rather ordinary items, including white wood, verbena, fine steel, goatskin, and green ribbons. But its title, The Evocation of Lucifuge Rofocale (2004), meant that visitors who read it inadvertently found themselves ca-lling forth the dark lord in a room full of all the items from the classic demonological recipe to summon him. The project revealed the artist’s persistent fascination with how mere things can be bestowed with a mysterious and auratic force.

What better way, after all, to describe that numinous thing we call “art” than to realize that besides kings and priests and bankers, artists are perhaps the only beings with the power to give value to things that ostensibly have none? Loboda does just that, rendering strange and unforgettable her combinations of willfully austere or simple-looking objects by layering them with encrypted backstories culled from the likes of obscure military treatises, alchemy, mythology, the occult, and museological research. Her tactics are neither nostalgic nor merely referential; rather, she transforms her findings into sculptural and photo-graphic works whose force lies beyond any surface aesthetic appeal.

At Kunsthalle Basel, Loboda’s first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland, the artist presents an en-semble of newly commissioned works that continue her particular brand of contemporary archaeology.

Exhibition view. Kunsthalle Basel
Exhibition view. Kunsthalle Basel
Raw material coming from heaven, 2017. Wall drawing. Dimensions variable
Mrs Van Hopper, 2017. Cigarette, cream, glass. Dimensions variable
Exhibition view. Kunsthalle Basel
Exhibition view. Kunsthalle Basel
Exhibition view. Kunsthalle Basel
Exhibition view. Kunsthalle Basel
Exhibition view. Kunsthalle Basel
The evolution of kings, 2017. 6 prints on hahnemühle cotton paper. 102 x 152 x 4 cm each
Trample your atavistic ennui into this sisal rug, 2017. Metal rods, sisal runner, various elements. Dimensions variable
Trample your atavistic ennui into this sisal rug, 2017. Metal rods, sisal runner, various elements. Dimensions variable. Detail
Two idiots engaged in a game of chess, 2017. Plate fragments. Dimesionsvariable
Young warrior in the landscape watching the birds go by. Pastoral, 2017. Fabric, gorget, plaster. 310 x 30 x 30 cm
Young warrior in the landscape watching the birds go by. Pastoral, 2017. Fabric, gorget, plaster. 310 x 30 x 30 cm. Detail