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музей почвоведения
cultural and educational project
Who and whatever we are, we need to make-with — become-with, compose-with — the earth-bound
Donna Haraway
Abelardo Gil-Fournier,
Jussi Parikka

Alexandra Arènes,
Audrey Pety

Aleksandr Nikolskiy

Anastasiya Mleko

Egor Astapchenko

Evgeniya Tarasova

Greg Orrom Swam

Julia Vergazova,
Nikolay Ulyanov

Kseniya Bakhtina,
Roman Smirnov

Kseniia Ruban

Liliya Tkachuk

Mikhail Petrov

Olesia Ilienok

Sybille Neumeyer

Uliana Lyubenova,
Kseniya Gorlanova

studio Zorya
November 21 | 12 pm
"Beneath the pavement, not the beach" (Polina Khanova). But what is under the pavement: land, territory, resource or living matter? Our perception depends on our role and goals.
Participants: N. Smirnov, K. Bonneval, O. Catts, P. Khanova, B. Woodard, Farming the Uncanny Valley, the Terraforming research team (A. Tetekin, L. Brina, Y. Gong), Y. Timofeeva
Grounding is an artistic and educational project aimed at cultivating interdisciplinary interactions in the Art & Science community by means of artistic practices, laboratory research, and public discussions. The public program includes an exhibition and educational events.

The epoch of the Anthropocene confronts us with global environmental problems: climate change, biodiversity loss, intensification of agriculture, and soil degradation. Attempts to implement environmental policies instead of solving problems only support existing hierarchies with human interests at the top. Today, the relationship between human and nature has reached a critical point and requires a deep rethinking. Only by changing alienation to altruism, and "above-world" heights to grounding, we can go back to the very ground where everything begins and ends.

Understanding our ethical role in the planet's transformation requires the ability to recognize nature as a complex self-sufficient system and ourselves as only a part of it. Natural formations exist as open systems of continuous interspecies communication. The origins of this view can be traced back to soil science as developed by Dokuchaev and reflected in Vernadsky's works on the biosphere. Dokuchaev considered soil a systemic phenomenon consisting of many factors (climate, time, terrain, plants, animals). He emphasized the equivalent contribution of biotic and abiotic factors to soil formation and evolutionary history. Vernadsky continued his teacher's thought and gave living organisms, primarily humans, a leading role in the transformation of the planet. The noosphere is a further stage in the development of the biosphere. According to Vernadsky, it places a greater degree of responsibility on the human species. Humanity as a powerful geological force becomes both a creator and a destroyer. This transition requires the transformation of the mind from a "mind-for-itself" state to a "mind-for-the-Soil/Earth/Biosphere" state. We can follow Donna Haraway's call for restoring multi-species eco-justice that includes co-existence with others: "Who and whatever we are, we need to make-with—become-with, compose-with—the earth-bound".

The anthropogenic becomes an integral part of the abiotic layers of the biosphere. Technology permeates all levels of life from habitats to the genetic code. Genetic biodiversity now draws its potential not only from natural gene pools, but also from banks of genetic information formed by humans. Biological species lose strict categorical boundaries and evolutionary processes drift away from linear certainty.

The tread of humans on Earth should not lead to suppression and desolation. It can become cautious, caring, and gentle if we start to look at what lies beneath our feet – the soil. The substance that a person would call "mud" embodies an ecosystem-wide tolerance. It is woven from a diversity of voices and agencies. Soil is based neither on survival of the fittest, nor on a utopian model of universal equality. It is a territory of negotiations, differences, and mutual influence.

Grounding is a refocusing of our gaze, a search for a new connection with what is under our feet. Grounding is about neutralizing the disruptive potential of technology and the surge from an accelerating growth race. The synthesis of natural and technological is not a fantasy about the future, but a present certainty. At the same time, it's a responsibility for cultivating these biotechnical shoots in contrast to the destructive competition between man-made and nature-created. The matter of the soil, woven from symbiotic connections, can serve as an inspiration and foundation for the cultivation of this responsibility.
Dokuchaev Central Museum of Soil
in St. Petersburg
The Museum has collaborated with many artists throughout its existence. The current development of scientific and artistic fields requires a continuation of an already established tradition, as well as an inclusion of the Museum and its subjects into an interdisciplinary dialogue. Thus, the existing exhibition acquires a new layer of artistic interpretation with the help of actual artistic means. At the same time, the intersection of various mediums (traditional and technological) is the key to understanding the complexity of this scientific field.
open call
Artists, scientists, researchers, and students are invited to participate in a collective Grounding, a process of sharing knowledge and exhibiting art projects that focus on soil in various contexts: from environmental to philosophical. Participation can take the forms of art projects, lectures, and workshops.

Based on the results of the open call, we will select up to 15 projects for a group exhibition at the Dokuchaev Central Museum of Soil in St. Petersburg. Completed artworks and unrealized projects alike are welcomed in open call. Selected workshops and lectures will be included in the educational program. We don't restrict participants in the number of applications. For realization of their projects participants can use resources of ITMO university laboratories: of computer technologies, robototechnics, AI, advanced materials, biotechnology, photonics and others (full list).

The mission of Grounding is to build connections between contemporary art and traditional science. During the selection process, special attention will be given to the projects that connect with the scientific and historical exposition of the Museum with its glass cases, historical artefacts, soil profiles, and other objects. We also invite artists to think about possible ways to carefully interact with museum exhibits in their projects. Here we provide creative freedom with the only condition that the exhibit should remain intact.

Application deadline: until November 30 (inclusive)
Announcement of results: December 15
Opening of the exhibition: Spring 2021
project team
masters students of Art&Science program
ITMO University, Saint-Petersburg:
Anna Kaplan
Grigorii Kirgizov
Victoria Gopka
V.V. Dokuchaev Central Museum of Soil:
Birzhevoy pr., 6

Art ITMO Residency:
Birzhevaya liniya, 16