The exhibition ’Anton Ginzburg: Ashnest’ at the Wyoming University Art Museum
curated by Nicole Crawford. October 1, 2022-June 3, 2023.
Mammoth tusks, painted polyurethane,
iron rods, resin, ash, bronze slag, sand
Size: 170 × 158 inches (432 × 400 cm)
The legend of Hyperborea has existed for centuries, and humans have sought to find its location. Many have claimed to locate this mythical land, always in the far North, “beyond the Boreas.” Claims of discovery include an ancient observatory, a carving of a giant embedded on a cliff, and an underground entrance near the shores of Lake Seydozero, in the extreme northwest of Russia. However, concrete proof of Hyperborea’s existence remains elusive.
Interested by these recent efforts to locate Hyperborea, Anton Ginzburg (b. 1974) uses this hypothetical place as the starting point – not the end game – to create the installation Ashnest. According to Ginzburg “the past – or rather our subjective interpretation of its remnants – become the sculpting material, the metaphysical clay we build up and embellish to communicate our experience of reality.” Ashnest becomes those residues, or clues, left behind possibly to show the way to Hyperborea. The sculpture is a collage of elements across time, technologies and materials. If Hyperborea really existed, mammoths would’ve been witnesses of this mysterious land.
Emerging from a circle of ashes, the serpentine sculpture of Ashnest is held together by steel rods, similar to what one might find in anthropological museum displays. The structure consists of micro-CT scans of the human bone that are reproduced into three-dimensional polyurethane assemblies with fragments of 40,000-year-old mammoth tusks. Using a combination of artistic intervention and scientific practice, the resulting sculpture evokes a sense of mystery for the viewer, creating a relationship between the real and fictional. Suggesting either a feeling of the effects of disaster and collapse or reemergence and rebirth from the ashes.
Surrounding the sculpture, marking the North, South, and East positions of the installation, are three molded panels that contain bas reliefs of geometric maps and abstract motifs. The Topology Shift panels set above the doorways indicate the chimerical entrances to Hyperborea suggested by the myth.