Soil works – When rocks weather

An exhibition by Elena Khurtova
February 19 – April 9, 2023, in the Glazen Huis, Amstelpark
Opening: Sunday Februari 19, 3-5PM

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 the specific case of 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 temporally host and divide piles of soil: soil that was originally part of a natural landscape, moved and 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 ‘lego blocks’. 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 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, shifting the exhibition format into a working space.

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 the blocks will change shape over time, we contemplate how every particle of sand through its own tactility can also tell us a story. 

Screenshots of video documentation of performance Displace 

As part of this exhibition Elena will also present Soil Works, a performance exploring soil movement through the process of drawing with soil on a large scale. In the backroom we will show video documentation of soil transformations and movements. Elena will be working in the exhibition space one day a week and engage in workshops and performances. Dates of the public program are still to be announced.


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 Proven 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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