Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design

Aykuo: Ije. Buor. Salgyn

Project overview
Student name
Sveta Maximova
Degree level
Year of project
She hears the voices of her native land Sakha, a republic in Siberia known for its authentic identity based on Nature as a part of human society in the Sakha ideology.
As a representative of an ethnic group in decolonial discourse living in Europe, she attempts to collect the remaining fragments of indigenous Sakha culture and locate its fractured archaic core in the current state of historical development. It is her aim in this new reality go give a voice to Sakha, which she sees as her way to resist and create.

Ije. Buor. Salgyn explores the trichotomy of the human soul and the general condition of human existence through a performative ritual act related to Sakha mythology. According to this, the human soul consists of three spirits: Ije-kut, Buor-kut and Salgyn-kut. Ije-kut is the 'mother' spirit transmitted from parents, traditions, and culture. Buor-kut represents the physical body, while Salgyn-kut is the air spirit, an embodiment of the intellect and mind.

Two women, representing the Buor-kut, circle around the Ije-kut – the sacred tree called 'Serge', connecting the lower, middle, and upper worlds and symbolising Nature. Female hair is threaded through the totem's roots. The ritual act becomes an attempt to reach the upper world through a monotonous cyclical motion representing the movement of the Sun – a metaphor for the elliptical progression of life in the universe. This attempt is Salgyn-kut: every living essence is heading to a higher plane of existence.

This act, however, is doomed to failure, as cyclicality is a loop. From a historical perspective, we live through the same extremes, facing traumatising events which make generation after generation deal with the continuity of violence.
At the same time, the obviousness of the cyclic movement points to the inevitability of change. At the end of the ritual, the women reach the uppermost point of their braids. The climax of the act is predetermined: what has a beginning also has an end. Three ‘Kuts’ unite and intersect, illustrating the commonality of everything.

Ije. Buor. Salgyn has several forms: a video art, sound installation, photographic documentation of the act, performance, object, and manifesto. Photography as a core language predetermined how the other mediums developed in this visual system. When starting researching the three ‘Kuts’, Maximova envisioned a photographic scene with moving bodies. The performance could not have been created without sound: the cylindrical-shaped manifesto became the basis for the sound installation involving improvisation on a jew’s harp. The ritual itself forms a separate element in the system, and was performed independently during the Opening Week of the Syndicate of Sound and Space (SSS) in the art quarter of Budapest. The wooden Serge sculpture is a memento of the project: as a symbol of Sakha culture, it provides a certain understanding of how it is transformed in the current reality and reflects forms of this transformation. The documentation of the performance in the form of a series of long-exposure photos is the basis for the zine. Printed on semi-transparent paper, they create a different perspective of the project, with the viewer experiencing timeless cyclic movement on another surface.

The project also has a text form – a manifesto representing the elliptical movement, written in two languages, Sakha and English.
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