Silt is an exhibition of new 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 and additional contributions from artists Carolina Caycedo and Rachael Champion.
Beginning with Neelova’s interest in processes of geology; the gradual layering and transformation of materials, over the last 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 exposed 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. Combing new work with research via installations, experimental and studio projects, Silt speaks to our shared relationship with water and the physical and cultural sediment this has left through history.
Alongside Neelova’s works, 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.
Nika 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.
Recent exhibitions include ‘EVER’, The Tetley, Leeds (2017); ‘GLYPHS’ Noire Gallery, Turin (2019), ‘drifts (there is always ground, even at night), MLF Brussels, (2018) and ‘She sees the shadows’ Group exhibition DRAF & Mostyn, UK (2018). She studied MA Fine Art Sculpture at Slade School of Art, London.
Rachael Champion is a UK based American artist. Champion’s work explores the physical, material, and historical relationships between ecology, industry, and the built environment. Her works are typically large in scale and consist of living organisms and ubiquitous building materials. Coalescing at an intersection between biology, geology, and architecture, Champion’s work addresses the corporeality of the materials we extract, transform, and consume and how these actions affect the physical characteristics of landscapes, ecosystems, and the built environment.
Champion’s work has been exhibited in a number of recognised institutions including The Whitechapel Gallery, Modern Art Oxford, Camden Arts Centre and the Zabludowicz Collection, all UK. Rachael has made numerous site-specific installations in a variety of contexts including commercial galleries, artist-run exhibition spaces, art fairs, and remote landscapes. She has been awarded a number of prizes and residencies including the Red Mansion Art Prize in 2010, The Arts Foundation Award for Sculpture 2013, an honouree artist at the Hirshhorn Museum Gala in 2016, and in 2018 she was an artist-in residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska. She graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools in 2010 and is represented by Hales Gallery, London.
Carolina Caycedo is a London-born Colombian artist, living in Los Angeles. Carolina’s artistic practice has a collective dimension to it in which performances, drawings, photographs and videos are not just an end result, but rather part of the artist’s process of research and acting. Her work contributes to the construction of environmental historical memory as a fundamental element for non-repetition of violence against human and non-human entities, and generates a debate about the future in relation to common goods, environmental justice, just energy transition and cultural biodiversity.
Recent solo museum shows include Care Report at Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź; Wanaawna, Rio Hondo and Other Spirits in Orange County Museum of Art, and Cosmotarrayas at ICA Boston and From the bottom of the River at MCA Chicago. In 2019 her work was part of the 45 Salón Nacional de Artistas Colombia, Chicago Architecture Biennial, Film sector of Art Basel in Basel, and the 2020 Wanlass Artist in Residence at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Caycedo is the 2020-2022 Inaugural Borderlands Fellow at the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands-Arizona State University and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.