We live in a moment of precarious futures; earths are rapidly shifting below our feet. Our imprinted pasts and the markings of our presents, redirect planetary futures in ever more seismic ways. Dissolving Earths seeks a dialogue with our geological pasts, from which to reach out to possible futures.
The fragile permafrost landscapes of Eastern Siberia are a place where the suspended lives of the deep past merge with the present as they are exposed by the thaw. As this happens, these lives navigate the future for both human and non-human communities, locally and across the planet. Bringing together diverse scientific, artistic, and Indigenous knowledge, Dissolving Earths considers these subterranean environments and the stories they hold: past, present, and future.
Involving collaborators whose lives are embedded in the region, and those from afar, Dissolving Earths was due to launch in March 2020. Funded by The British Council, it was a casualty of blanket sanctions by the UK Foreign Office.
As an Indigenous population and land colonized by Russia, many of the collaborators’ knowledge and work had already been silenced within the country; now, seen as “Russian citizens” against their will, their voices were now silenced internationally too. Permafrost underlies almost a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere landmass, but most of this is in Russia: urgent ecological research exchange has now been severed.
This conversation will hold a space to discuss some of the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on both the Dissolving Earths programme—its collaborations, concept, and agency—as well as wider cultural activities bridging indigenous and ecological concerns, and how these have been navigated both from within the country and externally.
Soledad Gutiérrez will chair a conversation between Dissolving Earths curator, Sophie J Williamson (initiator and convenor, Undead Matter); and curatorial team members Timur Zolotoev (former Editor-in-Chief, Strelka Mag) and Yulia Gromova (Associate Researcher at Documenta Institute/University of Kassel (former Strelka Mag Editor)
Text: Sophie J Williamson