SYMBIOSIS. SPACE AND PROCESS
Art and research project
Location: Botanical garden of Almaty
Dates of exhibition: 03.09–30.09.2016
Curator: Yana Malinovskaya (Russia)
Every living thing on the planet is in a relationship that can be described as a symbiosis (relationship useful for two or more partners) or parasitism/ antagonistic symbiosis (relationship useful for only one partner). An example of symbiosis would be any multicelled organism. The independent particles, cells or individuals bond together for two key reasons: efficient resource utilization and protection.
On Earth a struggle for survival has always been balanced with mutual assistance and cooperation. This fact was ignored during the reign of Darwin’s theory of evolution, which stepped outside the sphere of biological processes. The idea of a struggle for survival was considered an evolution factor, thus it justified the capitalist principle of competition and happened to be very appealing for new sociological theories. The followers of Social Darwinism proclaimed the idea of ‘the survival of the fittest’; Thomas Hobbes concluded that ‘the war of everyone against everyone’ was a society’s natural condition prior to forming a state. According to Hobbes the life of a man would be “nasty, brutish, and short” without political power.
In the context of such interpretation of the species evolution the human nature appeared to be personalized, selfish and hostile to the fellow human beings and other species, it is a case of dog eat dog. According to Hannah Arendt the extreme level of sectarianism is one of the causal factors for totalitarian activities. We’ve come full circle, the mankind is struggling to survive in a fierce competition and isolation; we are relapsing into totalitarian regimes, which in turn reproduce systems of isolation as its main condition of existence.
In order to restore historical justice it shall be noted that Darwin pointed out the inaccuracies at narrow definition of biological completion, and founders of symbiotics always claimed that mutual aid was a much more significant factor in the evolution. Karl Kessler's idea was, that besides the law of mutual struggle there is in nature the law of mutual aid, which “for the success of the struggle for life, and especially for the progressive evolution of the species, is far more important than the law of mutual contest”.
In reply to the manifesto ‘The Struggle for Existence in Human Society’ by Thomas H. Huxley, where competition was declared the main trigger of social evolution, Peter Kropotkin published his research ‘Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution”. The image of the victory of ‘the fittest’ and the need of struggle is rock-solid until now despite of the criticism of Darwinism, new theories of co-evolution and statements from modern evolutionists and microbiologists proving that evolution would be impossible without continuous cases of symbiosis on a cellular level. The socialist ideas of biologist and anarchist Peter Kropotkin were quite radical at that time, but they remain true today.
According to Kropotkin the nature of social relations is the natural biological need for mutual aid: “We have heard so much lately of the "harsh, pitiless struggle for life," which was said to be carried on by every animal against all other animals, every "savage" against all other "savages," and every civilized man against all his co-citizens - and these assertions have so much become an article of faith -- that it was necessary, first of all, to oppose to them a wide series of facts showing animal and human life under a quite different aspect. It was necessary to indicate the overwhelming importance which sociable habits play in Nature and in the progressive evolution of both the animal species and human beings. (…) Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle”.
Kropotkin never doubted competition between peers of the same species, ‘survival of the fittest’, and importance of personal self-assertion. Though he considered ‘the fittest’ are those individuals and communities that cooperate with one another.
Cooperation and symbiosis are not synonyms of harmony and merger. This is a respectful cooperation of the opposites who need each other. Symbiosis is possible due to acceptance of a ‘saint’ transition zone between a pair of antipodes or extreme values of oppositions. In this transition zone the opposite elements create some kind of hidden obscure nature. Such uncertain area implies a variety of meanings and contexts.
A symbiosis emerges from cooperation of two opposites, though it is an independent process and space; it contains a great potential for opportunities. One can only imagine what creative power is released with cooperation of the opposites: the past and the future, the local and the global, man and the nature, man and technology, different cultures, art genres, art and science, etc.
Botanic Garden is the area that has continuous symbiotic relationships with the city; that is what inspired us to explore this process. In the area different forms of symbiosis are visible both in biological and social dimensions.
A research laboratory in the city center, which is considered an entertainment site by the city residents, is technically not prepared to organize space in terms of a recreation facility and is currently seeking options for cooperation. The garden has been used as a place for wedding shoots and picnics, though these activities are not very effective yet – the cost of wastes removal exceeds the amount of income from entrance tickets. In addition there is not much public interest to the research work of Botanic Garden due to the peculiarities of this science, as selection is a long-term non-spectacular process.
When an art and research project is hosted at the Garden premises there might be a start of new case of cooperation between contemporary art and science. We have purposely avoided narrowing the topics of our research, but defined the matters to be explored – symbiosis of area – the garden and the city, symbiosis of cultures, symbiosis of man and nature, symbiosis as response to atomization, symbiosis as choice of relations.
We choose a research laboratory format and we’re back to the starting point of evolutionary theories in order to show the value of symbiosis and its meaning for the evolution.
When presenting the research results to the audience we create a new case of symbiosis, so the art work, the artist, the viewer and the location cooperate and produce a space of collective consciousness. That is why we consider our project a contribution to cooperative evolution of species.
Yana Malinovskaya, project curator.
705 art group (Kyrgyzstan)
Alexandra Kalacheva (Kazakhstan) feat. Almaz Turysbekov (Kazakhstan)
Alexey Shindin (Kazakhstan)
Altynay Satanova (Kazakhstan)
Anvar Musrepov (Kazakhstan)
Askhat Akhmediyarov (Kazakhstan)
Bakhyt Bubikanova (Kazakhstan)
Christophe Doucet (France)
Creole Cultural Center (Kazakhstan)
Dalida Aliyeva (Kazakhstan)
Darya Spivakova (Kazakhstan)
Ekaterina Nikonorova (Kazakhstan)
Fatima Omir (Kazakhstan)
Ilya Romanov (Russia)
Maria Syrtlanova (Russia) feat. Eldar Khasanov (Kazakhstan)
Natalia Lisova (Ukraine)
Natalia Tsvetkova (Russia)
Olivier LOULOUM (France)
Saule Dyussenbina (Kazakhstan)
Saule Suleimenova (Kazakhstan)
Svetlana Plotnikova (Kazakhstan) feat. Sergey Ledyaev (Kazakhstan)
Timur Aktayev (Kazakhstan)
Yelena Vorobyeva and Victor Vorobyev (Kazakhstan)
Zoya Falkova (Kazakhstan)
YELENA VOROBYEVA AND VICTOR VOROBYEV
A prerequisite for our work is a change in the state of materials through time. The theme of immortality is correlated here to the theme of imitation. The modern Russian term of ‘Art’ adopted from English is a kind of substitution to the Russian word ‘iskusstvo’, though in Russian the cognate word ‘iskustvenniy’ is closer in meaning to ‘artififcial’, ‘unnatural’, ‘dead’ than to the word ‘artistic’. A cliché ‘Life is short, art is long’ rather describes change in values. Life is the major value due to its instability and finiteness. Art is a secondary value as this phenomenon is of secondary importance, since its ‘length’ is relative and can be appreciated only by the ‘living’. Art piece is the final product of the act of ‘creation’; it captures and establishes a frozen ‘immortality’.
The mowed lawn grass which is accurately spread out on packages
The world is created with illusion and deception. This is another joke created by the artist for the audience. There is no deception in the work by the artist; the name fully matches the visual image. But the audience or rather the human brain has some stereotypic patterns. From films and news reports we know that the way this installation looks like is similar to a drug warehouse. The installation is far from it at all.
Therefore the viewer is able to understand how his brain builds a system within a certain framework, and why it should not be trusted.
In harmony with his habitat, Christophe Doucet appropriates material from multiple origins (tree trunks, found objects, industrial items), which he vigorously sculpts and assembles. From this energy rises a primitive cosmogony that reflects the origins of humanity. His massive animals that impose a strange spiritual force are somewhat evocative of shamanism. Whether he creates in Europe or in Asia, Christophe Doucet relates to the universal human condition and profound relations between man and nature.
Ode to Litter Basket. Symbiosis of Litter Basket and Х-eidoskope
Х-eidoskope is a symbol of personal limitations of human perception. Litter Basket is a symbol of protection of people from their own wastes. Litter is a symbol of activities of human civilization.
The artist raises several different issues, which can help the audience to lose touch to ordinary thinking and the habit to consume ‘beauty’. After all it is not that matter what the artist was thinking about, everyone will find something for himself.
1. At rest Х-eidoskope is turned to the Basket and gives it a partial shelter from rain. Same as our subjectivity of perception, which harbors, promotes and protects its human litter, admires it, feel nostalgic for it, sometimes worships it and eventually transmits it to the younger generations.
2. The shape of a truncated cone of Х-eidoskope creates different kinds of optical sensing, same as extrovert and introvert see the reality in a different way – the reality is perceived more or less compacted, zoomed in or out, though it is always limited.
3. Everyone likes kaleidoscopes, play of light and other stuff, like taking pictures of each other through a prism. Will the Basket be a barrier for a photograph, as it doesn’t look good as a selfie background. In order to look at the Х-eidoskopeone one has to approach close to the Basket; and it will take some effort to turn it away from the Basket.
4. It has become a fashion to expand consciousness, there are a lot of trainings of personal growth and development – and it is great. It is highly desired to expand the perception frames. Expanding the frames of Х-eidoskope (mentality, temperament and experience) is rather painful though, there must be a catharsis, break of cognitive system or at least rapture of stereotypes.
The Hanging Gardens
I have been working with the theme of gardens for years. For me a garden is a metaphor for art. The opposites meet here: the natural and the artificial, chaos and order, continuous renewal and dying. My idea is that any art work or art performance is a creation of the author's personal garden.
The Hanging Gardens project consists of the knitted objects I knit every day as a ritual. For me knitting is a special method of work, which I think is close to the principles of Pavel Filonov, i.e. the work on a thing goes from the particular to the whole, from an atom to an atom and finally - to the finished work. It goes knot for knot same as molecule by molecule create a biomorphic form. In addition it is a way of meditation and calming down through a training of a small motility of a hand. The hanging biomorphic creatures are half-fruits and half-animal; they create my hanging garden.
Looking at the processes taking place in a large period of time in human consciousness, the artist tries to draw attention to the dead-end prospects in the relationship between man and nature. Pernicious consumerism raises internal dissonance in the human’s harmony with the world around him. The antipode of the park is the lack of dialogue of people with themselves, of the government and society, of the human and nature, and disorientation in the fundamental values. The usual perception of the park, which let the visitor to think and rest, in a project, the painter turns the other side of the global modern reality.
Macondo may disappear, but it cannot change
A monument to the words of the Minister of Culture.
"I suggest you should read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Márquez. This one is my favourite."
Arystanbek Mukhamediuly, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan
"The first of the line is tied to a tree and the last is being eaten by the ants." Gabriel García Márquez, "One Hundred Years of Solitude"
Ad hoc instincts never fail high-ranking officials: we have not only read about Macondo, we seem to be living in it. The one described with utter precision. How could Márquez have known? But he did, and, as a sign of gratitude, we'll bring him to our soil, and we will give him to it. Let our Macondo unite with his Macondo in the insect digestive ecstasy. Marquez belongs to us.
MARIYA SYRTLANOVA FEAT. ELDAR KHASANOV
The Broken Shell is a parametric object, where architectural constructions are associated with natural forms of a seashell. The project is based on the idea of a close relationship between architecture and nature, the biological and the technological, and on the comparison of ‘frame’ forms of a bone structure and urban ruins around the city. In addition the art project reveals the theme of ‘memory' of the ruins.
The project is an attempt to imagine that the ruins are capable to remember what they used to be before, that they are able to act as a recording device, memorize and reproduce the sounds of the past.
The project is carried out with the participation of East45 Architectural Studio.
Between man and nature hybridization is required to retain a chance of survival of our species. Nature can regenerate without man, but man not.
My artistic installation is like a part of a world where man works with nature in the worries of being one with it.
This playful and poetic creation consists of recycled materials such as old windows or doors marked by a human identity, of plants and plastic - objects from a hyper-consuming and productive world.
The oeuvre will be kinetic, will move a large watermill that will move colored objects in an architectural universe where mid human and mid vegetable silhouettes will fit.
The creation will provide a strong and positive feeling to the visitors.
Nub of earth
The artificial rectangular black almost virtual form of human activity bristles up with its subconscious salt to the life that appeared on its surface. The true nature of human culture is hidden in the depths behind the black mirror; it is crystallized in a merger with a rough and dusty real life.
(parallel botany research cycle)
‘Connected to us by close psycho-symbiotic links, their presence in a certain sense appears richer and "denser" than that of the plants of the first group, because they grow in the rhythm of our subjective time and eventually take the form of a long and intricate conceptual process. These plants, which for inexplicable reasons lost their real existentiality at some fairly remote point in real time, are today rediscoverable in the eventful landscape of our imaginations, where they reemerge from the authentic distant past, enriched with an ambiguous present, ready to be illustrated, described, and commented on.
Like the subjects of old portraits they are reborn today, after long repose in oblivion, with a double identity: the one which lives in our imaginations, and the other, now independent, which we see before us in its gilded frame, with its own reality. ‘
Leo Lionni, Parallel Botany
Transparent artificial spider web is falling from tree branches onto the ground; it has caught artifacts of parallel plants. They have been dried, laminated, described, documented in photographs and drawings; now they are suspended in the air. The herbarium is in some state between being samples for a scientific research and aesthetic elements of decorative nature of plants. The Botanical Garden acts as a city catalyst for sharing sensory experience.
Dissected plants are poetic images, they form a different field of meanings when approach real objects of the botanical world. It is an attempt to take the image of a plant out of time concept, out of the cycle of development and destruction in order to give it existential significance, to make it a personal symbol, the object of emotional experience of beauty and perfection of nature.
The installation is accompanied with music (available online), it is a specially created soundscape based on the sounds collected in the Botanical Garden. The sounds made by plants are a base for the music, a continuation of a parallel reality, where subjective reality forms the image of the object.
The environment is characterized by processes with a certain repeatability. During mowing, the grass seeds fell into the soil to repeat themselves.
Fissures are formed from a strong impact in solid matter. The state of the environment suffers from greed and indifference. Increasing the number of "fissures" will lead to destructive welfare.
The territory of the Botanical garden-the barrier of convergence of mudflows on the city. In the shade of the trees stones find peace.
APAI grapheme is a graphic symbol for a moment of symbiotic work, when the internal merges with the external. At the time of connection the third one is created.
The modern interpretation can see it as a seed, embryo, fetus, ear, nimbus, neck pillow and others. This grapheme is a symbol of Katipaapism.
The project was inspired by a story by Ray Bradbury «Forever and the Earth», in which he is talking about talent and the fragility of human life, of time travel taken to ensure that a terminally ill science fiction writer from the past was able to live a little more and to write his best book. The story ends with a description of beautiful flowers – «…The flowers appear every night. As if they are falling from the sky. Huge, the colors of the autumn moon, they blaze, sparkle by cool, long petals, they are like white and blue flames».
The project consists of several art objects. This is a fantasy, the flowers are large in size, located in the space between the trees taller than a man, to create the impression that the flowers came down from the sky. Color palette bright colors emphasized. They should be contrast with the surrounding nature, which indicates their extraterrestrial origin.
Installation «Leaves» is made of fragments of the plastic packages usually used for dust and plastic film for packing products. Now people use and throws out so many a similar waste that the Earth chokes with them.
Leaves of trees absorb carbonic gas and allocate oxygen. It is possible to tell that the leaf is a source of AIR on the Earth. My work is a symbol of ecological accident - the leaves should give AIR to the Earth, but the plastic leaf, on the contrary, will not allow Earth to breathe.
Today there are a lot of ecological problems in our Earth. The nature created by God, that called «first nature» often in conflict with the «second nature», created by people. People try to change «first nature» but as a result can kill it. So there are the big Border Line between «first nature» & «second nature» today. The work «Winter Forest» was presented in the real winter forest. So I made my work as a part of nature & show the unite of «first nature», created by God & «second nature», created by person. By this installation I want to put off the Border Line between «first nature» & «second nature».
Textile installation «Winter Forest» made from cotton, metal, viscose & nylon. It is a hand weaving. I used two structures of weaving: two warp weaving & plain weaving. Some parts of installation are trees. They were weaved as tubes (two warps weaving). Other parts symbolized different kinds of snow: fluffy snow, frost, rime with using cotton, viscose & nylon threads can reflect light variously & show how beautiful can be the real snow. I live in Russia – country with a lot of snow. But if people will do Border Line between «first nature» & «second nature» the climate will be hotter & there will be no snow & beautiful winters anymore.
For example beeswax
Comparing ourselves to others, how we see ourselves and our lives are different and different from each other. But we are all human, one species of living beings. Our symbiosis, cohabitation with each other, designed to be convenient for everyone, and most importantly, allows you to grow, develop, and give development to all. The natural environment in which we exist is practically the same, within the physiological range, affects everyone, and every second reminds us of the oneness of humanity. The installation objects - sphere, cube, pyramid, made of beeswax, the product life of bees, which is "public" the device of a bee swarm. In the space of the Botanical garden, under the impacts of sun, rain, wind, visitors, objects and installations over time will change its original shape. This process of weathering or denudation, if you use the scientific geological term denoting the process of changing the natural shapes of the earth's crust, is intended to show the unity of our nature, life and purpose, individuality and personality of each of us. As well as our unity with nature, Earth, Universe.
The word ‘Artificial’ has roots in the word ‘Art’. My artwork Steppe Pastoral is made with plastic bags and placed over one of the walkways at the Botanic Garden. So the artificial nature flows to the real cultivated nature of the Botanic Garden. Art pretends to be Nature. Steppe dissolves in the trees of the Botanic Garden.
SVETLANA PLOTNIKOVA FEAT. SERGEY LEDYAEV
We invent hi-tech tools to see other worlds and creatures living there. We feel they live somewhere very close to us. We watch microbes in a microscope, pokemons in a Smartphone, and we hope to observe aliens from other planets in a telescope. As followers of Columbus we keep on exploring the new extensible reality in the hope to find someone else there. We do not know who they are, though we suppose they are just like us but a little bit worse, they might be less developed, or more developed but less humane. They always require either patronage or elimination. India declared dolphins ‘non-human persons’ and as such has forbidden their captivity for entertainment purposes. Sitting with our kids and watching the dolphins jumping through a ring do we find them intelligent? Are we ready to accept this fact and the consequences following? Isn’t it safer for all the other creatures to stay inside our digital gadgets than going outside in our human world?
The environment ostensibly represents a small piece of imaginary secret sci-fi polygon for biological experiments.
Paint on the ground
Place of power
In June 2016 Almaty hosted the grand opening of a McDonald’s restaurant. More than 100 people gathered together to try the taste of freedom, most of them were parents with children and pensioners. The hero of the day was a kid got sick because of intense heat. The people came together in an effort to help the kid, they poured him with water, and after a while the boy came to his senses and finally was proud to get inside.
Modernity comes along with the sense of confusion in self-identity, it raises an issue: What shall we bring up – the national ideas directed to the roots or the global ones that build identity through delegated marketing campaigns?
A logo of McDonalds is an ancient pagan monument accidentally discovered in the forest, it is covered with thousands of pieces of fabric. The ritual place of worship for consumerism and globalization comes to the steppes with well-ordered queues for burgers. Same McDonalds restaurant are like spaceships of aliens, who came to our planet to conquer it or to bring here something new.
The installation is a nostalgic memory about the outstanding era of the 19th century, when the man and nature were equal. It was the time when beauty followed its canons without disturbing the harmony. It was the time when the human spirit had not yet conquered the nature, but was no longer afraid of it or deifying it.
ALEXANDRA KALACHEVA FEAT. ALMAZ TURYSBEKOV
My project explores and presents a symbiotic type of relations, when one group of people uses another one to strengthen their power and influence throgh making the most out of all the resources of the weak, such as health, money, and property.
Such type of relations is typical for a sect or a cult. There are numerous examples of them everywhere, and they are not only religious. There are sects that lack any religious teachings, they are called commercial cults.
One and the same principle can be observed in all sects, it is mind control to dominate over will of the people and have power over their ideas, feelings and behavior.
Strange as it may seem but the sect usually traps people who are thinking, searching for their way, trying to know the truth. There are different aims for those who join: someone is looking for mighty powers, someone is in need of hope and support. As a rule these people are unappreciated and lonely, sometimes they suffer from hard times, troubles with family life, career or health. At such moment a man is an easy prey, he can be effortlessly entrapped with a simple attraction, i.e. support, assistance, care, attention and love.
A bright gingerbread house behind the green trees is beckoning and pushing in. When one sees it closer it comes clear that the house is rotten from the inside, there are dampness and mold. The traces of destruction and desolation are well seen on the walls, and they show through the bright pattern. The loafs, cookies, and cakes are used to attract and push in. Eat a piece of candy, and you can lose yourself.
4000 sq. cm. of green
Almaty and Bishkek are (not) in an intensive dialogue. They are (not) in a symbiotic relationship: political, commercial, cultural and other. A small piece of vegetation from Bishkek is moved to the Almaty Botanical Garden, and vice versa, thus forming new connections. In a sense, it is a green monument for utopian projects, but it has to find its own life.
‘Spider’s web’, ‘web of lies’, ‘worldwide web’, ‘web of sounds’ reflect different tints of meaning of one word. The concept connecting and defining the word ‘web’ is ‘connection’. As the roots of trees are connected underground, we, the people, are connected to each other in the surrounding eco system. We are not the masters of the Universe, we are not the most important element, but we might be the particular element to keep the Universe together.
The symbiosis of materials and styles in the installation is an illustration of the existing symbiosis in contemporary architecture of Kazakhstan. The installation is designed as a fragment of an adobe brick wall decorated with polyurethane moldings. The handmade adobe bricks were delivered from the village of Karoi (Balkhash district of Almaty province); produced by local masters from regional materials they are a symbol of traditional culture. Polyurethane pilasters and bolection moldings were imported from China; after independence they are used across all Kazakhstan and stand for a desire to join European culture. The wall with a window is a border between two cultures, a décor of modern life, a symbiosis of the artificial and the natural.
You yet may spy the fawn at play,
The hare upon the green;
But the sweet face of Garden Day
Will never more be seen…
(Paraphrased line of Wordsworth's "Lucy Gray or, solitude" poem)
Searching for better life a human being is sometimes trapped under someone’s interests and will, involved into games with unknown rules. He might be unfair or indifferent; he might act in a selfish and destructive way. Trying to renew his home he destroys the things that used to be valuable for him. He throws away some dreams that came true such as furniture, books, photos, and dishes. They used to be a source of joy, pride and comfort, promise of some other life – and now they are at second hand shops or landfill, giving space to something new, modern, bright, and glamorous. These new things are speechless and lifeless; they have no story to tell.
Historic buildings and respected cinema halls are destroyed in the city; green lots of land disappear under bulldozers; precious gardens, parks, and nature zones are ruined and overbuilt with houses; sweet trams are lost irrevocably. They all gave way to indifferent blocks of glass and cement, greedy shopping malls, tirelessly expanding roads, different stopovers, which have been closed in other countries and took half a century to be welcomed here. Nobody asks for an opinion and respects anybody’s feelings or memories.
The memories are like gardens, they take more than a night to appear, they require all life from the beginning to the end, and it shall be filled with observations, thoughts and ideas, sounds, smells and sensations, images, decorations and places, inspirations and feelings, regrets and hopes, meetings and farewells, grieves and joys, happiness and sadness, labors and efforts, plans and adventures, impressions and dreams.
Our garden is our common memory; it keeps shrinking on in the circle of time and circumstances. It is difficult to preserve it. There are less and less living testimonies; only a handful of treasures of memory remain to refer us to what was precious to our hearts. They are kept in several drawers in old useless table and cabinet. Glazed boxes of memories are like old photos or museum display cases. All that remains are these memories, but they will be lost anyway.
The world will change, and the light will never be the same. The light in the room, city, memory.