Soil Culture Residencies

Anton Burdakov

at the Eden Project, Cornwall

‘Soil Map’

Anton Burdakov is based in London and Berlin. He studied neuroscience at the University of Cambridge before studying sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. Through object-making and site-specific installations, his work explores transitions between spaces and states, focusing on the spatial dimensions of personal relationships and goals.

Anton was selected for the residency at the Eden Project, which invited an artist to work with the team to re-engage Eden’s diverse audience with the many facets and functions of soil. These included soil’s mineral make-up, its role as a food, the life contained within it, its importance in feeding the global population and its role as a carbon sink. The residency’s aim was to provoke curiosity and ultimately create a love affair between humanity and soil. It was also an opportunity to communicate the unique process of creating soil at Eden in just 18 months, a process that usually takes 200 years.

In advance of the residency Anton created a mobile sculptural unit, based on the molecular structure of china clay, mined in the quarry on which the Eden Project is built. During his residency the structure functioned as a tool for engagement, display and research – a kind of three-dimensional soil ‘map’. It was gradually populated with stories, images, natural and human-made artifacts that emerged from a dialogue with the Eden community (including soil scientists, horticulturalists and cultural programmers) and visitors. During his residency at the Eden Project he also hosted a visit from students on the MA Art and Environment programme at Falmouth University. Anton was particularly interested in the way in which ‘soil life’, the myriads of tiny organisms, the complex machinery of nature with its cycles and structures, ultimately translates to cycles and narratives of human life, individual and communal.

The structure he created, ‘Soil Map’, is a three-dimensional map exploring cultural and emotional associations with soil. It brings to the fore latent narratives and sets up new connections between the displayed objects, stories and images. Here in this exhibition it focuses on soil as a living archive. Both here and throughout the touring of this exhibition, members of the public are invited to share their associations and to contribute to the collection of objects, which could be presented on ‘Soil Map’ as it evolves.

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