Maria Guta

Guta maria portrait by larissa kaspar cahiers dartistes pro helvetia

Which old Witch?

Maria Guta sings a spell that spans nostalgia, identity and satire. Born in Bucharest, Guta is obsessed with a collective identity built by a culture of movie watching and celebrity media. Since 2020, the artist has created a parallel artistic practice with Lauren Huret to frame new questions about the limits of the self, and better explore the edges of identity. We are introduced to a mood we immediately recognize, familiar and friendly, rooted in the 1990’s and slowly seeping unconsciously into our lives. The strong visual aesthetics that permeate Guta ’s work is richly cinematic and contains a complex oeuvre in the colour palate alone. Utilising video, performance, and social media, the artist examines digital culture, online persona construction, and the influence of media on individuals and behaviour. Looking out of the East and into the West at a pivotal moment towards the end of the 90s and in the early 2000s, Guta’s fertile mind has grown upon a diet of candid celebrity images, commercialised media, and punchy cinema, and they sling ever more relevant new media artworks that address the beauty and the dilemmas of the era.

Catch up with the end of it all, if you missed it before.
Guta maria portrait cahiers dartistes pro helvetia neuchatel

In Keeping up with the Apocalypse (2021) Guta highlights the contradiction formed by the duality of a society striving for physical perfection, eternal youth, and immortality, and balanced by the accelerated and inevitable destruction of life on the planet. Despite a very real possibility of extinction, we wonder at the pursuit of otherworldly beauty and the development of transhuman technologies, misguidedly focusing on the extension of an individual life that is ultimately cursed to live on a dying world. Finding a mystical connection between the ancient Greek goddess of youth and the contemporary sensation that are the Kardashian family, the video work explores immortality from a candidly contemporary perspective. Guta's work serves as a critique of the egomaniacal drive for immortality and a obsessive blindness toward environmental concerns that seem painfully relevant. Engaging with the theme of digital and transformative identity, Maria Guta's ongoing art project that defines a persona known as Lola Lane, an evocative reincarnation of the actress from the early 20th century. In The Many Lives of Lola Lane (2021) the artist presents a series of digitally enhanced self-portraits in the style of selfies, complete with altered backgrounds, facial features, hairstyle, and accessories. The digital avatar of Lola Lane morphs as the online landscape evolves, the artist's exploration of these themes offers fresh perspectives into the ways individuals navigate their online identities. The work is an effort to build a better understanding of individual presentation in digital spaces, as well as the complexities associated with the formation of virtual proxies.

Text by Jonathan Ferguson

I scrutinise the construction of the online persona as a strategic form of both private and public identity.

Maria Guta

Biography of Maria Guta

born 1983 in Bucharest, Romania


Education

2013-2015 MA in Art Direction, ECAL, Switzerland

2002-2006 BA in Graphic Design, Bucharest National University of Arts, Romania


Exhibitions & Performances (selection)


2022
The Seven Ghosts of Iris, Smallville, Neuchâtel, Switzerland (as a duo w/ Lauren Huret)
Parallels - Part 1, CAN, Neuchâtel, Switzerland (as a duo w/ Lauren Huret)
Tschüüss Festival at Centre Culturel Suisse Paris, France (performance)

2021
Cyberia, Istituto Svizzero, Rome, Italy (performance)
Cyberia, HeK Basel, Switzerland (performance)
Under Pressure (group show), Mobius Gallery, Bucharest, Romania
Pax Art Awards Exhibition, HeK Basel, Switzerland
Real Feelings (group show), MU Hybrid Art House, The Netherlands

2020
Intervals of Attention (online performative video project), Rokolectiv
Real Feelings (group show), HeK Basel, Switzerland

2019
Sundance Film Festival / New Frontier, Park City, USA (performance)
GIFF - Geneva International Film Festival, Switzerland (performance)
Histoire(s) du cinéma: Gender Bender, Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland (360° video installation)
An Eye Unruled, Swissnex, San Francisco, USA (group show)
Backslash Festival - Im/Possible Spaces, Gessnerallee, Switzerland (performance)


Residencies & Grants


2021-2022 Residency at Smallville, Neuchatel, Switzerland

2021 Virtual SPAR (St. Petersburg Art Residency) online residency

2020 PAX Art Award for emerging new-media artist

2019 «Impossible Spaces» residency at Gessnerallee, Zurich, Switzerland

Works by Maria Guta

  • Guta maria huret lauren ghost 2 iris cahiers dartistes pro helvetiasold

    Ghost #2 (Memories of a shape-shifting cat on the verge of psychosis) by Maria Guta & Lauren Huret

    2022 / Print and oil pastel on canvas / 69 x 69 cm / 27.2 x 27.2 in / €3,850

  • Guta maria huret lauren ghost 3 iris cahiers dartistes pro helvetia

    Ghost #3 (Memories of a lotus-eater devoured by an alien lotus) by Maria Guta & Lauren Huret

    2022 / Print and oil pastel on canvas / 69 x 69 cm / 27.2 x 27.2 in / €3,850

  • Guta maria huret lauren ghost 5 iris cahiers dartistes pro helvetiasold

    Ghost #5 (Memories of a copper-haired witch cooking rye bread for the dead) by Maria Guta & Lauren Huret

    2022 / Print and oil pastel on canvas / 69 x 69 cm / 27.2 x 27.2 in / €3,850

  • Guta maria keeping up with the apocalypse video cahiers dartistes pro helvetia

    Keeping Up With The Apocalypse

    2021 / Single-channel video with sound, HD, 4’10” / Dimensions variable

  • Guta maria dinner party video cahiers dartistes pro helvetia

    Dinner Party

    2021 / Single-channel video with sound, HD, 5’ / Dimensions variable

  • Guta maria the many lives of lola lane cahiers dartistes

    The Many Lives of Lola Lane

    2021 / Digital print on photo paper / a collection of 81 different images / 201 x 201 cm / 79.1 x 79.1 in

  • Guta maria beauty lies in the phone of the beholder video cahiers dartists pro helvetia

    Beauty Lies In The Phone Of The Beholder

    2019 / Single-channel video with sound, HD, 4’10” / Dimensions variable

Cahier d'Ariste by Maria Guta

Loneliness Beside The Swimming Pool, 232 x 300 mm, 176 pages (published by Jungle Books)

Lola Lane, Maria Guta’s alter ego, has appeared in a variety of roles in the past few years. Previously, these transformations took place primarily on social media or in video and performance projects. For her Cahier, entitled “Loneliness Beside The Swimming Pool”, the artist tried to reassemble her old collection of cinema magazines and books, from which she scanned a large number of pictures. She then digitally manipulated the scanned images by replacing all the existing faces with her own, and finally reprinted everything in order to create a series of analog collages.

Within this compulsive collection of images, spread across 180 pages and resembling a fan-book, Lola Lane morphs into a significant number of celebrities and fictional characters spanning the past 100 years. The publication is also an artistic homage to the little-known actress Lola Lane and the pop culture that fuelled Guta’s imagination since her early childhood.

Geneva-based artist and writer Fabienne Radi wrote the text for Maria Guta's Cahier. In perfect harmony with the visual collages, she skilfully crafted a cut-up of texts that take us on a whirlwind tour of Lola Lane's multiple lives. It's like a compressed showcase of stars and "it girls" spanning the 1920s to 2020, from Joan Crawford to Britney Spears, with detours through the lives of Frances Farmer, Pamela Des Barres, Anna-Nicole Smith, and other intriguing characters who've experienced their fair share of decadence, tragedy, and roller-coaster journeys.

Maria Guta is part of the Cahiers d'Artistes selection. Eight artists were chosen by a jury to realize an artist book with the support of Pro Helvetia. Their artistic practice is presented online on TheArtists.net.

With the Cahiers d'Artistes, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia enables artists from Switzerland to have their first publication and offers art professionals and the interested public a window to current trends in the Swiss art scene. For the first time, the Cahiers d'Artistes are not pure monographs, but artist books designed and produced by graphic designers Samuel Bänziger, Rosario Florio, and Larissa Kasper (Jungle Books) in close collaboration with the artists. More about the Cahiers d'Artistes on Pro Helvetia's website.

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