Brought up in an anti-authoritarian and open-minded school, her path to become an artist was paved since her childhood. Maria Loboda is now a recognized artist travelling around the world from exhibition to exhibition. Her pieces bring together the work of skilled craftsmen and artisans with influences such as Iggy Pop, Art Deco, demonology and I-Ching, and leave no one indifferent. After experiencing one of her best years in her professional career, we wanted to discover why is she making everyone fall in love with her art.
Have you always been into art? How and when did you get into it?
Yes. I was always into making and thinking about art as a way of living and understanding my surroundings. Making art was something normal, what many of my friends did since being teenagers – for better or worse –, but we did it to amuse ourselves. Later I went to art school to polish off all the wildness into a nicer and more disciplined form.
You studied at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. Why didn’t you stay in Poland for your studies? Why Germany? Did moving to Germany change your vision of art or your working process? 
I studied at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. I was born in Krakow but was raised in Germany since the age of nine. Therefore I've had most of my education in this country. In my case, it's not about the country but about the school. The school formed me as an artist. I ended up a bit by chance at the Städelschule, and I loved it since the moment I set foot in it until my graduation six years later. It was – and is – a very international and open-minded school with high standards and demands, but simultaneously fantastically nonchalant and anti-authoritarian.
It was the best thing that could have happened and basically saved my life and paved my future path. I don’t consider the place of birth or the city where you choose to have your flat necessarily very influential on the development of your art. Maybe for a while, but the source of art has to be stronger than a mere place of living.
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You are now going back and forth between London and Berlin, right? Tell us about how your art is seen in both these cities? What are the most important elements that distinguish these two European capitals?
Not quite. I am between several cities, since I am travelling a lot as I've had a very intense period since last year with exhibitions and new productions. I am based legally in Berlin but have spent time equally in different places – meaning where I have to work. Right now I am in Lyon working on my upcoming solo at the IAC Villeurbanne, and I came from Vilnius and Basel, where I spent several months producing and installing shows. Before I was working in Toronto, Cyprus and Oxford, and in between, I took some weeks off at the Curonian Spit in Lithuania. I am leaving now for Paris and Berlin and then will be off to Japan and Mexico. 
So, as you see, I love travelling and experiencing new cities and cultures, but I am not interested in a definition of art based on the places you live in. I like to work in transit. Each of these cities formed me differently and gave me different strengths. London and Berlin are rather well-known – I do not have much to add to this –, but currently I am more interested in getting to know places a bit out of the conventional map, like Vilnius or Lisbon.
Your works often make references to texts, beliefs, or historic events. All of them merging ideas such as death, drama, magic, mystery, symbols, and elegance through numerous objects, illustrations and installations. What inspires you? What does it bring to you to convey your art through such ideas?
Archaeology, Art Deco, World of Interiors, demonology, Hermes Trismegistus, Permian-Triassic Boundary, shinto, blue velvet and celadon, Iggy Pop and American Gigolo, scenography, the British Museum, candied fruits, Concorde, Sotheby’s and Christie's, Seville Row, wilderness and the I-Ching. These are just a few of my current inspirations.
It brings me joy to make a good riddle, an unsolved ‘chiffre’, an abandoned game. I like when art is like an ancient oracle or a sphinx.
How would you define interdisciplinary art? And do you consider yourself an interdisciplinary artist?
Yes, I do. I define interdisciplinary art with my favourite title from an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert: “All of this belongs to you”.
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When did you start getting interested in conceiving each of your projects with the help of so many different materials? Where did you learn how to work with each of them? How would you describe the investigation process?
I work with very skilled technicians and crafts people. Obviously, I can’t work with each of the very different materials myself – I conceive the ideas, make my material research, think about forms and shapes and conduct my ideas with my friends and/or the curator or my gallerists. Then we look for professionals who work with each of the materials and try to produce the work. But basically I start with words – not with the material; I start with poetry, a quote, a scientific term that interests me and for me has the quality of a verbal sculpture itself. Then I start to look into materials that have, what I consider, a beautiful and devastating and sexy quality. I would like to work with Japanese lacquer like Eileen Gray.
The Interrupted Pillar I is such an amazing piece of work. How was it technically made? And what is its meaning?
I do not like to talk about the technical details if you don’t mind. This particular work is not about the material – knowing about its production will not add anything to the quality work itself. I did it in different materials over time, once in marble in Taipei, for example. I saw the image of a pillar with its middle part missing in a catalogue about the Temple complex in Karnak, and it struck me as such a paradox and elegant composition. This pillar was supposed to hold the temple, but it clearly didn’t. It was decorative. So, although you think something is there to bring stability, sometimes it's just a mirage.
Recently, you’ve presented an outstanding solo exhibition called I am Radiant, I am Radiant, I am Radiant in My Defeat at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius. What is the link between the exhibition’s title and the works displayed? 
I started with the title, and the source of it got lost in one of my notebooks – maybe it was by Rumi or from the Songs of Salomon, I do not remember. But I loved the almost sculptural and dramatic quality of this sentence, its stanzas and it has a good rhythm almost like a rap. And since I exhibited in the main hall of the Contemporary Art Centre, which is a very impressive, 10002-meter large space, I felt that I had to deal with size and rhythm more than in any other exhibition of mine.
As a visitor to this hall, you basically walk a lot, and one can forget what one saw at the beginning once arrived on the other side. Also, the questions of scale turned out to be very vital. Anything that was ‘normal’ scaled looked minuscule, and it was a real danger to go too big in the attempt to counteract this effect. It was very interesting as a learning process to try and adapt a harmonious structure into the space and then to break it again. The title helped a lot: through its three sections I came up with the ideas of different gates to pass through. The sentence and the exhibition became a passage, a mantra, a prayer with a twist.
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