Brighton exhibition explores our shared relationship with water

Nika Neelova: Silt is the exhibition at Brighton CCA from October 22-December 11.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 6:05 am
Nika Neelova
Nika Neelova

The exhibition speaks to our shared relationship with water and the physical and cultural sediment this has left through history, said spokeswoman Nicola Jeffs.

“Silt is a new body of work by Russian-born artist Nika Neelova examining our cultural and physical relationship to water.

“The exhibition centres on a large-scale sculptural installation accompanied by a series of studio works, research projects and additional contributions from artists Carolina Caycedo and Rachael Champion.

“Beginning with Neelova’s interest in the processes of geology, the gradual layering and transformation of materials, over the past 12 months Neelova has been working in collaboration with Brighton CCA and academics at the University of Brighton on a new body of work drawing on disciplines from archaeology and ethnography to literature, natural sciences and ecology. The exhibition title references the process in which materials suspended in water are deposited over time in pipes, at river mouths and estuaries. Silt is mineral rich, fundamental to shaping changing tidal landscapes and renewing fertility. It is also unstable, thick and a challenge to free-flowing waterways.

“Entering the exhibition visitors find themselves in a subterranean world of archaeological strata. Fossils are strewn on the floor while sculptures cast from the interiors of ancient water systems are suspended throughout the space.

“Neelova cross-references the veins and ventricles of the human body with the visual language of museology, transforming the works into the skeletal structure.

“Placing the installation within the framework of the gallery, Neelova adds a further layer in which architecture itself is conceived as a kind of body, sustained by the water and air running through the pipes woven within it.

“The installation is suffused with the accumulation of time and material, of architecture above and below the surface, of people and cultures across time linked and shaped by the liquid flowing around and through us.

“Alongside Neelova’s works, combing research with installations, experimental and studio projects, Carolina Caceydo’s film Land of Friends (2014) details the impact of the El Quimbo Hydroelectric Project, Colombia on the indigenous peoples who rely on the river and its tributaries for their physical, social and spiritual wellbeing.

“Rachael Champion’s installation continues her explorations into human interactions with geological time and the traces we leave on the landscape. In conversation with Neelova’s works these projects open a dialogue between the cultural value of our natural resources and their exploitation in the service of society.”

Neelova is an emerging Russian artist based in London.

“To date her sculptural works have been concerned with the narratives of architecture and materiality. For this new commission with Brighton CCA, Neelova has collaborated with the Centre for Aquatic Environments at the University of Brighton focusing on strategies found in the natural world to adapt to water scarcity and the infrastructures humans have created throughout their history to manage water supply.”