Award Winner 2017
Anna Kurkova is a graduate student in the Art History program at La Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi. She graduated from New York University in Abu Dhabi with a BA in Visual Arts and Economics.
Through her art, Anna seeks to achieve a deeper understanding of her surroundings, one rooted in the interconnected perspectives of history, society, and the environment. In several ongoing pieces, she explores the civilizational urge to tame the natural typographies of the earth and rework them to the practical and aesthetic needs of human societies.
Rooted in the typographies of the earth, the DUNESCAPE takes inspiration from what are known as “linear sand dunes,” which are long and thin in shape, and oriented at a parallel with the direction of the wind. Designed as perfect squares, the panels signal with their shape the grounded, resilient nature of the desert and its inhabitants. The straight lines and right angles of the tanks contrast with natural variation of the sand curves within them.
This work speaks to the vital issues of environmental protection and cultural memory. Today, when the beauty of the planet is blemished and its health is failing, it is more important than ever to find means to reconnect with nature. Most of the land surface of the UAE is a vast desert, its sands ever shifting and changing like the progress of time. Over the last 45 years, fantastic mega-cities have blossomed in the desert, prompting a shift in population towards urbanization. The sculpture, a triptych of glassy copper-tinted dunes, stands as a monument of landscape architecture, and serves as a reminder of our immediate surroundings just beyond the cities’ edge. Artists intention in this piece is to initiate a private dialogue with every viewer, and provide a refuge for meditation and contemplation.
The sand-like material itself is, in fact, finely shredded glass. This substitution further develops the idea of the transitional period we inhabit. Just as in the process of manufacturing glass sand undergoes a radical transformation from natural sediment to man-made construction material, so too the UAE landscape gradually undergoes an urban transmogrification. Returning shredded glass to an original form of a sand dune allows the material to go full circle and unite the glorious end with a humble beginning in an organic pattern.
Manifestation of cultural memory as a physical landscape provides a place for every viewer to reflect upon the past, contemplate the future and feel the gravitational pull of nature.