06 September 2018

Melancholic love songs by Gino Paoli and a festival on a volcanic island. That‘s how you could describe Maria Loboda‘s summer.

By Philipp Hindahl (text), Jan Buchczik (illustration)

Spend the summer working or on vacation? The artist Maria Loboda finds her own particular answer to this dilemma. She spends the warmer months on the volcanic island Stromboli, south of which, and at a good distance, lies the Italian coast. This year the island is to host a festival by the name of Volcano Extravaganza – and Loboda is to co-curate the next edition of the festival in 2019, for which preparations are already well underway. The island of Stromboli bears the same name as the volcano that created it. The name derives from the Greek, “Strongylē,” meaning the round island.

© Jan Buchczik

Is there anywhere she’d rather be? She couldn’t possibly say, but there’s certainly a place where she’d also like to be, and that’s the Lithuanian coast, the Curonian Spit. Probably hardly anyone knows what a spit actually is, but a glance at Google Maps makes it clear: It’s a fairly narrow strip of land that separates the open sea from a bay, the so-called lagoon. This I have discovered not from Maria Loboda, but also from Google. Either way, this spit on the Lithuanian Coast, Loboda says, is her favorite place. Incidentally, it’s also a striking stretch of coast, or more precisely three stretches: two further out into the sea, forming a fragile strip of land that is generally just a few hundred meters wide, then the actual coast of the mainland, in this case that of Russia and Lithuania, with the still, brackish water of the lagoon in between.

Summer is the time to remember past summers, and nothing triggers and preserves such memories quite like Pop music. When I ask Maria Loboda which music does that for her, she says “Sapore di Sale” by Gino Paoli.

Sooner or later this song always comes up.

Maria Loboda

It’s a wistful tune that lopes along to a slow Rock-and-Roll rhythm, and at some point the strings kick in while Gino Paoli sings about the salty taste of the seawater and the bitter taste of loss. This surprises me, as the song is from 1963 and Loboda, born in 1979, can hardly have known it first-hand, although I understand immediately why the artist says: “Sooner or later this song always comes up.” By the way, the question of whether to work or go on vacation doesn’t always need to be unequivocally answered. Maria Loboda, in any case, has her own approach: “Work disguised as a vacation. But that’s OK.”