New media artist Aryuna Bulutova turns to Indigenous practices and epistemologies in a quest to heal our relationship with the world beyond the human. Inspired by Lusuud, a Buryat Shamanic ritual, Bulutova’s video artwork interweaves ancestral knowledge with climate awareness.
Guided by her parents who are practising shamans, Bulutova delves into a web of sacred meanings and symbolism. In Buryat Shamanic tradition, ritual offerings are a pathway to connecting with the Upper and Lower worlds. Lusuud is a multifaceted ceremony which pays homage to Lusud-Khan, the water deity dwelling in the Lower World. This ritual involves assembling various offerings in a complex installation that depicts the underwater world. It includes numerous dough figures representing aquatic animals, alongside lit candles, willow branches, and items symbolising nine natural elements. Accompanying these are sweet offerings, white coins, black stones (representing the earth and the underwater realm), and colourful ribbons symbolising the energies permeating the universe. A red thread links these elements, culminating in its immersion in a vessel filled with water. Performed several times a year, Lusuud seeks to secure good fortune and health for one’s family or to request forgiveness from the water deity for any harm caused to nature.
Bulutova’s video, featuring a melting body of frozen earth and water, transitions this ritual into digital space. A red thread envelops the mass, transcending different realms and illustrating the interconnectedness of all beings. Meditative yet ominous, the video reflects on the urgency of climate change and the necessity to engage with diverse forms of knowledge in addressing current and future crises.
The artwork was presented at the Western Academia And Nomadic Cultures To Address Climate Change event at the COP28 – United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, UAE, as part of the project NNA Research: Collaborative Research: Frozen Commons: Change, Resilience and Sustainability in the Arctic (supported by the National Science Foundation, award #2127343), ArtSLInK initiative and Dissolving Earths.
Sound design by Buryat-Mongolian sound artist ERHYME.
Aryuna Bulutova is a Buryat-Mongolian new media artist. In her multidisciplinary practice, she explores Buryat culture and its Buddhist and Shamanist heritage through the lens of digital and generative art. Her work has been exhibited at Lkham Gallery in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. A motion designer by training, Bulutova frequently collaborates with other artists, musicians, and fashion designers. The audiovisual performance she did for the Buryat fashion brand ABZAEVA has been shown at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Moscow 2022 and Moscow Fashion Week 2022. She also participated in the Golden Bee Graphic Design Biennale and ArtMasters 2022 competition.