Soil works – When rocks weather

An exhibition by Elena Khurtova
February 19 – April 16, 2023, in the Glazen Huis, Amstelpark
Opening: Sunday February 19, 3-5 PM with performance
Finnisage: Sunday April 16, 3 – 5 PM with 
performance and talk

Using her own body to interact with the soil, Elena Khurtova explores our ability to create a reciprocal relationship with the ground beneath our feet. Zooming into so called grondbanken – sites where excavated soils are collected before their migration to become part of new landscapes – she investigates how soils are cared for and contained. On these physical sites, walls made of concrete blocks are often used to temporarily host and divide piles of soil: soil that was originally part of a natural landscape is now contained in an interior space creating another kind of landscape.

Flowing to each other – Clays of North Sea kwelder and Meuse river bed

In the glass pavilion Elena Khurtova will present the process of transforming displaced soils into these monolith concrete blocks and back into earth. Soils from the Amstelpark and elsewhere  – sand, clay, compost – will each respond in their own way to the process of being compacted into these restricted industrial shapes and change them over time. The opening of the exhibition will be the starting point of an ongoing process of the performative making of the objects and their subsequent entropy back to matter. The exhibition format is thus expanded  into a working space which over the two months gradually transforms, making it worthwhile to visit the exhibition at various stages. 

Soil Works: When rocks weather is a performative exploration of both the care and control that is part of the human relationship to soil, while also raising questions about industrial processes and how these originate in craft and play. Can we regain a sense of play and intimate connection in the production of capitalist structures? How do tools relate to our body, how does time become embodied in labour, and how does the performativity of matter continue in the structures after they have been made? As matter changes shape over time, we contemplate how every particle of sand through its own tactility tells us a story.

Displace , durational performance, 3bisF, Aix-en-Provence, France

Elena will also present Soil Flows, a performance exploring soil movement through the process of drawing with scale. Resembling the capillarity process of soil-chromatography and evocative Rorschach tests, soil particles travel on a horizontal wet paper surface: spreading and crawling, flocking and coming apart. Enlarging the process of drawing to a bodily scale, Khurtova invites the viewer into the volatile process of soil dialogues.

Elena will be working in the exhibition space every Friday and engage in workshops and performances.


Public programme

Sunday 19 February 15:00 – 17:00 pm – Opening with Soil Flow performance

Elena Khurtova is working in the exhibition on Friday February 24, March 3, 17, 24, 31, and April 7 and 14 from 13:00 till 16.30 pm. Join her for her conversation or engage in the artistic process.

Sunday 26 March 15:00 – 17:00 pm
Soil Works – Workshop for children and adults
In this workshop Elena Khurtova addresses transformation of matter and invites participants to join her process of working with soil. Focusing on rammed earth technique, an ancient method of constructing with soil, Elena wants to share the direct potential of the ground beneath our feet – soils of Amstelpark. Through touch and play, and discovering tactility of soils participants are invited to enter into a dialogue with soil matter.

Sunday 16 April 15:00 – 17:00 pm – Finissage with artist talk, discussion and performance

About the artist

Elena Khurtova (1982, Samara, Russia) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Amsterdam. Reflecting on the interplay of fragility and resilience of human and environmental conditions, Khurtova’s work explores the overlaping notions of care and control. She works across performative and sculptural installations, drawings and artist books, building poetic relationships with concrete and fluid materials and mapping the transience between human and nonhuman agencies.
Elena Khurtova was awarded the Established Talent Grant from the Mondriaan Funds, the artistic research fellowship of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and has exhibited internationally, with institutions such as 3bisF Contemporary Art Centre with Manifesta 13, Arti & Amicitiae, NL, Looiersgracht 60, NL, Kunsthalle Lottozero, IT and Korean Ceramic Biennale.
In conjunction with her artistic practice, she teaches at the Art and Research programme of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie / UvA and the Royal Academy of Arts of The Hague, NL.

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