Art F City Looks at Nicolas Lobo in BIO:DIP
“Collective bathing has a sense of suspending the social order, no? Like wild animals at a common watering hole.”
—Nicolas Lobo, in conversation with Hunter Braithwaite, The Brooklyn Rail
A bottle of Nexcite, the long-discontinued energy drink that bills itself as “Dietary Supplement” and “ROMANTIC DRINK,” sits on my shelf. It’s purely decorative. Nicolas Lobo, the artist who gave it to me in 2014, has described its taste as “Windex.” (He used cases upon cases of them for an exhibition that year.)As I sip the drink in an act of gonzo preparation for my trip to Red Bull Studios New York, I notice it’s been expired for a decade or more. I detect notes of blackcurrant, maybe some phencyclidine.
My body heats up—waves of pleasure radiate out from my loins, which itself feels empty, as if chemically castrated—and I head to the branded two-story gallery space.They’re hosting BIO:DIP, an exhibition curated by Neville Wakefield. Lobo is on the floor you walk in on, and artist Hayden Dunham on the floor below. At the front desk I’m given a press release, which is printed on a large mylar heating blanket, like the aluminum-looking kind they use in space.
Lobo worked with a company called San Juan Pools to cast several soaking pools (they’re a bit bigger than Jacuzzis, but not full-size pools) and flipped them over so that they serve as biomorphic plinths, and atop the plinths, are sculptures of homemade soap. The casted pools are golden brown, while the sculptures are muted blue, red, and gold, a sort of surreal mirror to the Red Bull palette. The sculptures, which Lobo says are inspired by modernist shapes—some sort of look like biscotti, and all resemble primordial shapes straight outta the id. The windows of the space looking onto Chelsea are smeared garishly with red lipstick, and smell rubbery if you get real close.
It’s a very Loboean exhibit. The interest in disrupting the industrial process, the fissure in logistical flows, the amassing of large gross quantities of synthetic substances to explore biological agents and processes at a scale barely stomachable. Leisure sites and things, noxiously distorted. The best part of it is that the pools are going to be sent back to the company, reinserted into the process, and used by whomever’s so lucky as to literally swim in the art. The mix of conceptual rigor, badassed process, and resultant forms is great to look at, and even better to think about.