Anastasiya Gutnik is an interdisciplinary Russian-born artist whose work incorporates walking, storytelling, and notions around place and transience. Primal materials such as soil, salt, ash, bones, grasses, become starting points for her installations for their physical properties, cultural meaning, and ecological significance. The human and nonhuman find connections through their own gestural expressions, gravitational pulls, and historic entanglements.
She explores the way our connection to the natural world and each other is influenced generationally, weaving together installations that consider the distant past and the complexities of our contemporary moment, while imagining future relational possibilities.
“We are born and have our being in a place of memory. We chart our lives by everything we remember from the mundane moment to the majestic. We know ourselves through the art and act of remembering. Memories offer us a world where there is no death, where we are sustained by rituals of regardand recollection,”
Belonging: A Culture of Place
Memory is a connector, sometimes remembering is as impossible as predicting the future.
Bodily memory. Ancestral memory.
Distance leads to hazy misremembrances. A toy tank forgotten from a childhood photo, replayed with new eyes after the Russian invasion. Impossible returns are the waters we swim in, so they say.
Longing as a generative act.
Rainbow trout return. Salmon return.
Beating tails against shores in defiance.
Language memory. Humming as resistance song.
What do we carry with us to remember?
My practice spans multiple timescales, from the immediacy of gestural drawing to durational walks ongoing for years. My video works explore the possibilities of engaging with latent memory and embodied ways of coming to know place through layered imagery and non-linear narrative.
Charcoal finds its way into my work because of its ephemerality and symbolic potential. Charcoal is a residue, an obliteration of all that was, transformed through fire becomes a substance used for drawing, purification, nutrition. I am interested in the multitudes of meaning that organic matter carries as it shapeshifts from one form to the next, intersecting with our lives. Charcoal is futurity. A highly porous microcrystalline graphite portal. It may very well save you from poisoning one day.
Like charcoal, my white basin is a teleportation vehicle to the past and future in Memory of Returns. This multichannel video is comprised of three parts: 1) Fish flows; 2) The Journey: Vodonos (water carrier); and 3) Untethered Mapping. In this piece I draw over an archival map of Dexter Reservoir shortly after the completion of its dam in 1955. As the charcoal drawing frees the river from its man-made edges, it meanders outwards and becomes unruly. A school of rainbow trout flows past the confines of the dam, once again able to retrace trajectories coded in their DNA. Morphing into embryotic spinning form, the fish becomes a free-flowing ball of energy, full of emergent possibilities.