‘Grey to Blue: Ecological Entanglements’ at the Edinburgh Art Festival

Grey to Blue: Ecological Entanglements

Detail of Pawpaw | Dark Flower Scarab Beetle sculptural installation, 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

Earlier this year, ASN graduate Yulia Kovanova took part at the Edinburgh Art Festival, presenting a new body of work ‘Grey to Blue: Ecological Entanglements’. The exhibition was hosted by the Tent Gallery and the Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh.

Through an investigation of ecological interactions, Grey to Blue focuses on the exploration of colour and its spatio-temporal dynamics, to reconsider perceptual boundaries, looking at how spaces are shared with human and nonhuman.  Each artwork explores the in-betweenness of things and how seemingly separate objects, bodies and phenomena relate. 

A series of abstract interactions are presented through sculptural, photographic, moving image and sound based works, drawing attention to the role of colour in the living world, while highlighting ecological loss and absence. 

“Our world is a web of intricate relationships and interactions – some easily accessible to human senses and some less so. It is those very delicate relationships that Grey to Blue takes as its focus.” — Yulia Kovanova

Taking inspiration from the natural world, the work looks at how different organisms interact with their environment, and questions the place of humans within their surroundings.

Yulia Kovanova, Red Silky Oak | Swallow-tailed Hummingbird installation, 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

A sculptural installation comprising of thin multi-coloured wooden rods [above] looks at the interaction of a hummingbird and its flower as the bird enters the flower to drink nectar. The coloured lines representing the flower interpenetrate the colours of the hummingbird, creating one spatial experience. The audience can walk through the piece, thereby entering the hummingbird-flower experience.

Avocado | Giant Sloth installation, sound

Avocado | Giant Sloth installation, sound, 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

A pile of real soil spanning almost six metres is studded with casts of avocado stones of different shapes and sizes. The sculptures are absolutely white; their hue is missing – reflecting the extinct large mammals who would swallow and distribute the avocado stones. Those animals are long gone, yet the fruit hasn’t caught up to this reality, and continues to call for its lost partners.  Sound piece by Lars Koens.

Avocado - Giant Sloth - Yulia Kovanova - 2019 - Image by Michal Jesionowski

Further element of Avocado | Giant Sloth installation, 2019. Image by Michal Jesionowski

As the hue left the avocado pits, the actual avocado dye became one of the components of the three plaster casts, presented next to the soil. This piece shows the various shades that can be derived from avocado dye. With the giant mammals gone, it is the role of the human as a surrogate to continue the work of helping these plants disseminate.

Purple Coneflower | Rusty Patched Bumble Bee installation, sound 2019

Purple Coneflower | Rusty Patched Bumble Bee installation, sound 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

Developed in collaboration with light programmer Siyao Zhou, the ‘Purple Coneflower | Rusty Patched Bumble Bee’ installation explores relationships between bees and flowers. The lights are mapped to a bee’s movement, lit with the colour that of the flower, so the piece creates an experience of a bee-flower, as one entity – alive only in coexistence. Sound piece by Lars Koens.

Detail of Mango | Stegomastodon instant image installation, sound 2019

Detail of Mango | Stegomastodon instant image installation, sound 2019. Image: Kieran Gosney.

A mango ages from unripe to spoilt in a progression of instant photographs that trail to the floor, much like the fall of a mango from its tree to where it will lie uneaten by its extinct evolutionary companion, the Stegomastodon. Thousands of years ago this great giant swallowed the entire fruit with its pit, helping the plant to disseminate. With the animal now extinct, the fruit continues to appeal to its ghost of a giant.

Detail of Red Silky Oak | Swallow-tailed Hummingbird installation, sound 2019.

Detail of Red Silky Oak | Swallow-tailed Hummingbird installation, sound, 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

The Red Silky Oak | Swallow-tailed Hummingbird installation is comprised of a blurred video of a brightly coloured hummingbird and a flower projected onto an imposing fractured ‘screen’ made of suspended paper tubes, along with a sound piece by Lars Koens that carries the audience through the columns.

The exhibition is supported by the University of Edinburgh and Hope Scott Trust.

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