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Anna Frants, Artist Union. Still life, from the series “Matter of Chance”, media Installation, 2019. Photo: Jurgen Bunimovich

Vulnerability: to get back to earth and to become earthly. Curatorial foreword by Lydia Griaznova


CYFEST-15: Vulnerability is a series of traveling exhibitions hosted worldwide by prominent cultural and public institutions. In December 2023, this exhibition will be presented at the Deering Estate, a historical landmark in South Miami, Florida, with over 450 acres of natural grounds, including eight native ecosystems. 

Under the theme of vulnerability, CYFEST-15 showcases artworks that explore and reflect on vulnerability from a range of points of view — from the fragility of an ecosystem to the vulnerability of memory, from the preservation of becoming old media art to the state of equilibrium being within nature- and techno- worlds. CYFEST-15 took place in Yerevan, Armenia, this September and will continue in Venice, Italy, in 2024.


This exhibition is an invitation, while following the route from one artwork to another, to take a closer look at the issue of how we are actually included in a world. At the Deering Estate, we featured the works of artists who closely collaborated with the CYLAND Media Art Lab. At the core of CYLAND is the creation of media art in close dialogue between artists and engineers. The sound and multimedia installations engage with the environment they're placed in and become an invitation for visitors. 


Four new artworks created on the occasion of this exhibition will be presented. Among them is the interactive sound installation by Alexey Grachev "Field". The set of objects with Theremin's antennas are scattered on the field. They produce sound depending on people's proximity and the wind's intensity during the day. The installation interacts with an environment and people, creating a continuous sound field. The intended conscious human action and the effect of natural forces create soundscapes equally. 


The installation "Victory over the Sun" by Elena Gubanova and Ivan Govorkov is named after the eponymous Futurist opera. It consists of geometrical figures referencing its appearance to Avant Garde paintings. The primary energy source is solar-powered batteries, whose capacity defines the intensity with which artworks will work. Miami's weather will determine how the installation will work. The artists are questioning whether humankind holds its power under nature, as it was stated in the opera. 


In "Time Signals", a sound installation by Sergey Komarov and Lydia Griaznova, the time signals with a strict utilitarian purpose and is subsequently interfered with children counting out rhymes. Kids' voices disturb the order of things to remind us of one's sense of time, where what is considered too long or too short is a question of one's perception of what and when it is happening.


The site-specific video installation by Elena Gubanova and Ivan Govorkov "Monitoring the Rotation of the Earth on the Sofa", is located in what looks like an abandoned room turned by their owners to a storage place for house goods. In a semidarkened room, visitors are invited to sit on the sofa and contemplate how the Sun is moving across the carpet. It is an ordinary scene, experienced accidentally by many an early morning or at the dawn of a day. Perception of time and its passage is expressed in the movement of the sunbeam — an evident presence of the cosmic time — compressed to the human scale and captured in such form many times during the history of painting.


In the installation "Slow Burning" by Vasilii Bakanov and Andrew Strokov the fruits undergo chemical reactions. The data of the chemical process turns into real-time generated sound. It is a low-humming noise that hints at the presence of a constantly happening processes, bracketed here in the form of a scientific-like experiment. The sound will change during the exhibition, with the condition of  the fruit consequentially turned from fresh to deeply burned by heat inside the box. The process is too slow to grasp its dynamic. The perception of the world by the naked eye contradicts with a "black box" of scientific data requiring us to slow down and comprehend it. 


The CYLAND Audio Archive (CAA) will present  a selection of records. This collection features international artists with different approaches on how to work with sound. These are examples of analogue sound and experimental electronic music, work with found footage and algorithmic composition and digital synthesis, recordings of sound objects, capturing of natural sound or exploring the sonic capabilities of musical instruments from keyboard to Disklavier and radio equipment. The turntable and vinyl set manifest in physical form a presence of sound in an exhibition space. It is easy to distract the listener from perceiving the invisible. As a natural counterbalance to this fragility, sound overtakes one way or another — comprehensible and pleasant or unwelcome, like a sound that marks an imminent danger. We can close our eyes or turn away if we don't want to see something, but the universe of sound information is structured differently. In such interpretations, it is the listener who is now vulnerable before the artwork.


The interactive sculpture "Source of Energy" by Alexandra Dementieva, a large-scale ethanol molecule, spreads under Mango trees. The light spheres are connected to the Kombucha SCOBY. The undergoing fermentation process defines the dynamic light patterns of the sculpture. A connection between techno-object and living form shows how the energy is extracted and utilised. Ethanol, while used as a component of engine fuel, is reducing harmful emissions. The installation highlights the interconnectedness of living organisms, nature, and energy generation processes. While it is still good to question — who is the beneficiary, and for what purpose they will consume the extracted energy?  


The drawing machines in the media installation "Artists Union" by Anna Frants constantly register the surroundings. They make a reality snapshot in a series of repetitive, economical gestures during each drawing cycle. The captured image data accumulates slowly onto paper rolls spread around the machine. While data gathering might be effectively outsourced to the machines, the interpretation of gained information and the decision on what should be registered in the first place remains under human responsibility.  


Tecnological artworks placed in the natural environment appear here not to contradict it but to highlight what is present anywhere else — a fragile equilibrium of co-presence between a human-made reality and the wholeness of the world. 

We invite you to take your time and take a tour through the diverse landscapes of the Deering Estate.

As Bruno Latour once proclaimed, it is time to touch base! [1] 


  1. Bruno Latour in the Introduction "Let's Touch Base!" in the "Reset Modernity", 2016 

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