platform for art, nature & technology
19 February 2023 – 16 April 2023

Soil Works

When rocks weather

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 presents the process of transforming displaced soils into monolith concrete blocks and back into earth. Soils from the Amstelpark and elsewhere  – sand, clay, compost – 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 is 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.

Elena also presents 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.


Public programme

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

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


Glazen Huis

het Glazen Huis