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Nick Lobo’s “Bad Soda / Soft Drunk” Turns Failed Aphrodisiac Drinks into Art

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Niagara was once a sought-after aphrodisiac drink in the early 2000s. When the brand changed its name to Nexcite for legal reasons, sales plummeted and the company was left with thousands of unused bottles of the sugary drink. Enter Nicolas Lobo, a Miami-based artist so fascinated by the story of the extinct beverage that he used 69,000 expired Nexcite drinks and turned it into art. At Gallery Diet he’s created a Windex-blue sea of Nexcite. With the empty containers, he assembled a wall with the bottles, a sort of reliquary for the fallen beverage. Also included in the show are his Napalm sculptures, equally born from obsolescence. We caught up with Lobo to talk about his new show, “Bad Soda/Soft Drunk.” WHITEWALL: How did you first learn about Nexcite? NICOLAS LOBO: I was looking at buildings in Opa-locka to potentially use as studio space and a particular building happened to be packed floor to ceiling with pallets of Nexcite, I had never heard of it before but I was dumbstruck by the quantity so I started researching it. WW: Sales of the energy drink fell drastically after the name changed from Niagara to Nexcite. Why do you think that is? NL: It’s hard to tell. The couple that was marketing it in the U.S. blames the litigation by Pfizer based on their Viagra claims. Having tasted the drink I don’t find it to be drinkable. I think the beverage world is such a crowded field these days that most brands come and go. I think the concept of a luxury, non-alcoholic drink is getting more and more difficult to imagine. Especially in today’s landscape of cold pressed juices. WW: Much of your previous work deals with themes of obsolescence. What draws you to forgotten materials? NL: I think sometimes failure creates a clearer diagram than success. Things that are at full velocity are difficult to harness, objects which have slowed down begin to present other uses, forms and perceptions. This is good for what I’m interested in doing. WW: How do the napalm sculptures relate to this? NL: Napalm could easily seen be seen as a failed product, I also see it as an opposite to the aphrodisiac properties of Nexcite. WW: You say the exhibition is “a temporary pause in the lives of both the sodas and the sculptures.” Can you elaborate on this? NL: It goes back to this idea of velocity, objects, substances which are in motion through networks. These particular ones happen to sink into immobility for a time. In some way, bringing them into this show gives them the ability to resume their outward spiraling motion. WW: The exhibition is set up like a Chinese Rock garden. What is the significance of this? NL: I wanted to create a grid and then find a way to disturb that. The cases of bottles create excellent lines that are forced to re-position when they encounter the bases of the napalm sculptures. This is not explicitly a rock garden but definitely owes something to that tradition.



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Minjung Kim




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