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Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 Studio Visits: Nicolas Lobo

Nicolas Lobo working at his studio in Miami’s Design District.

In conjunction with recent collaborations between Thomas Hollingworth, Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 (Magazine pg. 100), Modern Luxury (Miami) and NO MAD Paper, featuring Miami culture, ARTLURKER, will now present studio visits of select Miami based contemporary artists. Running concurrently with Art Basel Miami Beach the aim of these features is to venerate the cities native artistic wealth and honor those who continue to make Miami what it is.


Working in sculpture but for the most part not limited to a specific medium, Lobo’s intelligent works focus on intersecting cultural trends and social anthropology. A gleaner of forgotten stories, he exposes and brings into figuration that which lies just beneath the surface of everyday perception. Like many Miami artists, Lobo contributes to a variety of independently curated projects but also honors invitations to larger museum exhibitions with compelling and original work. For his most recent project – producing work for The Possibility of an Island which opens at MOCA Goldman tomorrow morning -Lobo joined the Raelians, a religious sect founded by its leader Rael who believes that the lineage of the human race, and future, rely on the scientific knowhow of an extraterrestrial race known as the Elohim.

Transformative Park, 2008. An indoor work based on graffiti found on an outdoor public sculpture rendered in PeaRoeFoam.



Firstly, lets have an over view of what you do, followed by an over view of why you do it.

Well, I guess I’ve got to trick myself into thinking that I am accomplishing something, that’s kind of important. I definitely got my head screwed around a bit by school but it was good in the end. I am recovering now. I like to base everything off of the idea of making a sculpture because it’s good to have an anchor point that you can rotate around. It doesn’t have to really explicitly be sculpture but it’s just nice to come back to that.

Can you talk about some themes and your progression?

When I first came out of school I started out with a simple concept which was to materialize the invisible. So that was the staring point of the work that I started in about 2005. That was a good starting place I think but its kind of a general thing so what I wanted to get at was that things get made by culture and they get made for specific reasons to fulfill specific needs so it wasn’t just the general invisible that I was interested in, it was the invisible that was invisible because there had been no reason to make something physically. So that sort of led me to these in between places. These cultural eddies, or whatever you want to call them, where nothing was manifest. And then I started thinking what if you could make a picture of a society or a culture based on those invisible points where data is missing, so it’s kind of like trying to travel through culture via those invisible points. Kind of like an anti zeitgeist or something. And so that’s where I am now.

Challenger, 2005. A sculpture of the Challenger explosion above Cape Canaveral, 1986.

And there’s a difference now in the type of work you are doing in respect of Transformative Park versus Challenger?

Yeah, definitely. Here’s the thing; I think the traditional way to dissect an artists trajectory, whether it’s their life or ten or twenty year period, you know, is that there is this idea of there being distinct periods or phases and each one represents or is represented by bodies of work. Where as for me, I think of working on all the bodies of work that I’ll ever make, all at the same time. It’s ten or fifteen bodies of work  and I am just going back and forth between each one.

In your head?

And also with what I am making.

Nicolas Lobo working at his studio in Miami’s Design District.

What are you working on now?

There’s the MOCA Goldman show [The possibility of an Island]. The good news about that is that the Biscayne Times wrote a piece on the project that I am doing which is tied in with the Raelians and the Raelians read it and were extremely enthusiastic, they loved the project, they loved the article and the prophet himself actually read the article and is very interested by the idea of the tiles and actually invited me to the Raelain gala at the Kennedy Estate in Las Vegas . That’s right after Basel. The other project is a collaborative one, it’s a series of one minute reverse guerrilla theater performances from our studios outside of Design Miami where we are going to be broadcast on a party line and incorporated into an ongoing record project called American Donut.  And there will be people doing other things too, like Jason Hedges will be giving out his cabbage soup hangover cure around the corner.

And after Basel?

I think I’m going to move up to New York in the late spring and work up there and do some projects and stuff. And then I’ll be back in the fall.

So yet again you have managed to do a high profile museum show and a small independent studio project?

You’ve got to do both right? I like to take the resources from the big high profile things and funnel them down into the dungeon.

What are you looking forward to seeing this Basel?

You mean other projects that I might be interested in seeing? There’s always a lot. I mean there’s a lot of stuff that I am looking forward to but I am looking forward to finding something that I didn’t expect. That’s what I always look forward to. There’s lots of stuff going on that I know is going to be interesting but what I really end up liking the most or what sticks in my mind is the stuff I stumbled upon randomly. I can tell you that the past Basels the things I have liked the most have always been one of those last minute stumbles. Like two Basels ago it was a performance that was Paper Rad, FriendsWithYou and Dennis Palazzolo at the Marlin on the Sunday night that Basel ended; that was just amazing, so much good energy there. That was really tops and there’s a lot of other stuff that happened that was good but that really kind of was the cherry on top. Last Basel I stumbled into an abandoned tent party on the beach just south of the Iggy Pop concert at the containers and it was this massive lobster buffet and full bar and there wasn’t a single person in there, but it was on and open so I just loaded up on lobster with a couple of friends and had some nice drinks at the bar and then sat there by ourselves in the middle of all these empty tables and then just walked out. And we had a little Iggy and the Stooges soundtrack as we had our lobster and champagne. That was kind of a high point[.]



Nicolas Lobo’s work inspired by his association with the Raelians is in The Possibility of an Island, an exhibition organised by the Museum of Contemporary Art, North MIami and curated by Assistant Curator Ruba Katrib. The possibility of an Island opens Thursday December 4th 9am – Noon at MOCA at Goldman Warehouse, Wynwood Art District, 404 NW 26th St., Miami. +1 305 893. 6211 or


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Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 Studio Visits: Nicolas Lobo