20 Questions for Miami Artist Nicolas Lobo

Nicolas Lobo in „Grape Syrup Action for Paul Octavian Nasca’s 'U Smile 800% Slower'”, 2011
(Courtesy the artist)

Name: Nicolas Lobo
City/Neighborhood: Miami

What project are you working on now?
Producing a boy band and working on a theater set based on early 90’s South Beach nightclub design. Also, editing a publication of a radio station.


A lot of your work involves the translation of data into sculpture, lending material volume to abstract forms of government influence like no-flight zones, aviation patterns, and electromagnetic fields. What kind of reaction do you hope viewers have to your work?

I hope people feel a certain kind of hate during the first moment they encounter it, later if they keep dealing with it I want them to feel like they can’t look at other things the same way anymore.    

“Glideslope,” a 2008 sculpture you’re showing at the Marlborough Gallery, represents the standard descent ratio for landing an aircraft in the form of a terrazzo cast. This is one of many aviation pieces you’ve made. What is it in particular that interests you about flight?

I think the jet set age is kind of collapsing. Yes, we still fly around, but all the glamour is gone, can you imagine having sex in a commercial airline today?  On the other hand, a private jet still has obvious luxury appeal.  Air travel is becoming more and more a place where the class divide becomes highly theatrical.  

There's a kind of obsessive quality to this work that recalls the subculture of people who collect airplane tail-fin numbers — a pastime that has led to the identification of spy satellites and black sites. How much is your work motivated by paranoia?
I don’t think about paranoia much, I think the word is similar to “Normal.” It’s a spectrum but you can’t be sure where the beginning middle and ending are.

A lot of the works in your current show deals with media teetering on the verge of obsolescence, such as CDs and phone sex hotlines. What draws you to these dying information vehicles?
Probably the same thing I liked about the aviation subject.  I think we are entering a time of austerity.  We’re going to have to start making choices about what we want to keep and what we need to give up. I think obsolescence is the format of progress.

In your video “Grape Syrup Action,” you spray clouds of cough syrup out of a fire extinguisher alongside Paul Octavian Nasca’s recording of Justin Bieber’s “U Smile” slowed down to eight times its original tempo. You do realize the perils of bringing Justin Bieber into an art context, don't you? He might never leave. Thoughts?
Really? I feel like as Bieber’s relevance fades the video gains weight.  It starts on-trend and then as it ages it just kind of sits against the flow of the media cycle decay.

While studying film, you decided to become an artist after sitting in on a slide lecture at the University of Miami. What artworks were in that slide lecture?
Many, I think Paul McCarthy, Roni Horn, Mike Kelly, Vitto Acconci, and Eva Hesse stand out from that lecture. I don’t remember the titles of the particular works.

What's your favorite place to see art?
I don't’ think of looking at art in those terms.

What's the most indispensable item in your studio?

Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?
Ha ha, J-Live said it: “The ends stay revealed while the means I conceal.”

Do you collect anything?
I have some small work from friends.

What's the last artwork you purchased?
A multiple from [NAME] by assume vivid astro focus titled “bread and pussy.”

What's the first artwork you ever sold?
A piece of sheet metal I threw under a train when I was 16.  I sold it at a garage sale to a guy who made me leave an answering machine message for his girlfriend about it as part of the deal. I think for $75 I sold out pretty well.

What's your art-world pet peeve?

What's your favorite post-gallery watering hole or restaurant?
It really depends on the city I’m in.  I like Lester’s in Miami. I had a good time at ACME in New York.

What's the last great book you read?
“Noise: The Political Economy of Music” by Jacques Attali.

What international art destination do you most want to visit?
Have not thought too hard about that.

What under-appreciated artist, gallery, or work do you think people should know about?
Changes every day, I won’t name names because I don’t want to imply they are underappreciated.  

Who's your favorite living artist?
I don’t think of favorite. I’m into phases of artists. Right now I keep going back to Rudolf Stingel’s foil covered foam installations.

What are your hobbies?
Toxic people.