We live in an era of major climate shifts, where the environment is becoming a crucial part of our cultural or social conversation. Under the threat of a catastrophe which could determine our future as a species, it’s important not only to reflect on our role in climate change, but whether it may be too late to turn back the clock. Contemporary art provides a platform to reflect on environmental issues through culture, individual experiences, and collective memory — and a new generation of Russian artists are determined to use it to raise awareness. As part of Russia Z’s special project Curated, we have selected five artists using their work to tackle environmental issues in all their nuanced complexity.
Moscow-based artist Alina Brovina explores the intricacies of humanity’s lived-in spaces: environmental, cultural, and emotional. She looks at the urban space through the prism of both her autobiographical experience and research. Her project Palus Flores combined flower sculptures and soil samples from a flowerbed by her apartment building, telling a story of human-induced changes to the natural world which straddled the scientific and nostalgic. Her latest series of sculptures, Sometimes I Cry, Too, combined materials like marble and asphalt with books and kids toys.
Andrey Druzhaev is based in Nizhny Novgorod and worked with street and land art before turning to photography, video essays, publishing, and digital tech. His work offers a poetic and slightly cryptic take on the landscape, giving viewers the chance to experience the land not just through sight, but also through memory and emotions. Druzhaev incorporates text, objects, and installation in his nuanced storytelling, and is currently developing a video essay based on the events of his father’s life.
Based between St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, Alexey Khamkin explores points of connection between humans and nature, including forms of resistance, cooperation, mutual influence, and the possibility of communication. His work is influenced by Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, and he works with traditional and computer graphics, as well as with animation, illustration, and installation.
Anna Marchenkova has a background in ecological engineering and documentary photography. Based between Yekaterinburg and Moscow, she has chosen photography as her medium for multifaceted research into Russian landscape in all of its ecological and social complexity. From secluded Buddist monasteries to densely populated tower block estates, she explores the urban, ecological, and cultural landscape in the Anthropocene epoch.
Maria Sviridova’s project, VIP Nature, inserts lush natural landscapes into urban industrial zones and housing estates. Meanwhile, her work Merger also explores the possibility of coexistence of technology, human, and non-human beings. In her work, Sviridova is interested in the limits between human and non-human, identity, and cultural memory.