Maria Loboda. Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom

installation view Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017
photo: PHILIPP HÄNGER

installation view Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017
photo: PHILIPP HÄNGER

installation view Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017
photo: PHILIPP HÄNGER

installation view Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017,
view on Raw Material Coming from Heaven, 2017
photo: PHILIPP HÄNGER

installationsansicht Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017
view on Mrs. Van Hopper, 2017
photo: PHILIPP HÄNGER

installationsansicht Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017
photo: PHILIPP HÄNGER

installation view Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017
view on Note the Incendiary Weapon on the Left Ledge of the Third Gate, 2017
photo: PHILIPP HÄNGER

Installationsansicht Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017
view on Note the Incendiary Weapon on the Left Ledge of the Third Gate, 2017
photo: PHILIPP HÄNGER

Installationsansicht Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom, Kunsthalle Basel, 2017
view on Two Idiots Engaged in a Game of Chess, 2017
photo: PHILIPP HÄNGER

all works courtesy of Maria Loboda and MAISTERRAVALBUENA, Madrid

Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom is the title of the solo exhibition by MARIA LOBODA currently presented at Kunsthalle Basel.

The title comes from a chapter of an epic chinese myth from the sixteenth century, which tells the story of Sun Wukong, a monkey born from a stone and who acquires supernatural powers through Taoist practices in the novel Journey to the West:

Sun Wukong possesses an immense amount of strength, being able to lift his 13,500 jīn (8,100 kg) Ruyi Jingu Bang (Golden Cudge, 如意金箍棒) with ease. He also has superb speed, traveling 108,000 li (54,000 kilometers) in one somersault. Sun knows 72 transformations, which allows him to transform into various animals and objects; he is, however, shown with slight problems transforming into other people, since he is unable to complete the transformation of his tail. He is a skilled fighter, capable of holding his own against the best generals of heaven. Each of his hairs possesses magical properties, and is capable of transforming into a clone of the Monkey King himself, or various weapons, animals, and other objects. He also knows various spells in order to command wind, part water, conjure protective circles against demons, and freeze humans, demons, and gods alike.

Hoping that a promotion and a rank amongst the gods would make him more manageable, the Jade Emperor invited Sun Wukong to Heaven, where the monkey believed he would receive an honorable place as one of the gods. Instead, he was made the Protector of the Horses to watch over the stables, which was the lowest job in heaven. When he discovered this, Sun Wukong rebelled and proclaimed himself the “Great Sage, Equal of Heaven”, and allied with some of the most powerful demons on earth. The Heavens’ initial attempt at subduing the Monkey King was unsuccessful, and they were forced to recognize his title; however, they tried again to put him off as the guardian of Heavenly Garden. When he found that he was excluded from a royal banquet that included every other important god and goddess, Sun Wukong’s indignation again turned to open defiance. After stealing Xi Wangmu’s “peaches of immortality”, Lao Tzu’s “pills of longevity”, and the Jade Emperor’s royal wine, he escaped back to his kingdom in preparation for his rebellion.

Sun Wukong later defeated the Army of Heaven’s 100,000 celestial warriors – each fight an equivalent of a cosmic embodiment, including all 28 constellations, four heavenly kings, and Nezha – and proved himself equal to the best of Heaven’s generals, Erlang Shen. Eventually, through the teamwork of Taoist and Buddhist forces, including the efforts from some of the greatest deities, Sun Wukong was captured. After several failed attempts at execution, Sun Wukong was locked into Lao Tzu’s eight-way trigram cauldron to be distilled into an elixir by the most sacred and the most severe samadhi fires.

After 49 days, the cauldron was opened and Sun Wukong jumped out, stronger than ever. He now had the ability to recognize evil in any form through his huǒyǎn-jīnjīng (火眼金睛) (lit. “fiery-eyes golden-gaze”), an eye condition that also gave him a weakness to smoke.*

By speaking about battles that were fought, lost, and won, and empires that collapsed a long time ago‘*, MARIA LOBODA aims to question the references, fractures, continuities and interpretation of stories and history.

Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom by MARIA LOBODA is on view until May 14, 2017 at Kunsthalle Basel.

*via http://arts.cultural-china.com/en/87Arts7184.html

* MARIA LOBODA via http://www.kunsthallebasel.ch/wp-content/uploads/KH-Basel-Exhibitiontext-Loboda-EN-WEB.pdf

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