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The MAE RAS and the "Echoes of the Sea"


On February 10, the International Research Seminar "Art, Science and Community-led Practices to Tackle Environmental Decay" was held at the MAE RAS in anticipation of the opening of the exhibition project "Echoes of the Sea" by British artist Nabil Ali. The seminar was attended by artists and curators working with environmental themes in art: Nabil Ali, Simon Periton, Indi Sandhu, Anna Bitkina; environmental journalists and activists: Angelina Davydova and Anna Ushakova; and, of course, scientists engaged in research both in the field of ecogeology - Daria Ryabchuk (VSEGEI), and in the field of studying the traditional cultures and practices of the indigenous peoples of the North: Sofia Unru (Institute of the Peoples of the North of the Herzen State Pedagogical University), Konstantin Klokov and Vladimir Davydov (MAE RAS).

Artistic research carried out within the framework of the “Echoes of the Sea” project is closely associated with the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It is aimed at reimagining the objects of the museum's collections and the accumulated knowledge of the research center through the prism of modern changes in nature and cultural processes. The ethnographic permanent exhibition of the Kunstkamera clearly shows how unique the creative, adaptive and innovative skills of traditional cultures are. Crafts, housing architecture, tools for collecting, hunting and storing food, clothing design, rituals and cosmology of indigenous peoples who do not think of themselves in isolation from nature help us to “recall” and actualize our awareness of our belonging to nature and kinship with each other.

The “Echoes of the Sea” is a nomadic project that “roams” around sea cities that are losing their coastal territories. For the first time, the sculptural installation was presented on the coast of the North Sea in Essex (UK) in 2021. The placement of the “Echoes of the Sea” project in the context of St. Petersburg allows expanding the public field for discussing local environmental problems. Creating sculptures for the St. Petersburg project, Nabil Ali was inspired by the objects presented in the Kunstkamera - Tlingit masks, Benin bronze, Eskimo sunglasses... And to create sculptures he used natural materials found on the coast of the Gulf of Finland: sand, earth, algae, plants, beeswax from the apiaries of the city of Otradnoye on the coast of the Neva and blue clay, rich deposits of which are located in the Leningrad region.

On March 1, the “Echoes of the Sea” exhibition will open at one of the art venues in St. Petersburg, and it will also be presented in the virtual space.