Art residencies
The AyarKut Foundation announces the launch of three international art residencies in Yakutsk for 2022 and launches an open competition for applications to take part!
The AYARKUT AIR Art Residency programme, initiated in 2021 by the AyarKut Foundation in Yakutsk – is an international project to support professionals in the field of contemporary art, inviting artists from all regions of Russia and the world to enter into cooperation, regardless of their preferred genres and techniques, age or nationality. The residency provides an opportunity for artists to visit Yakutsk within the framework of their individual plan submitted for the implementation of the project, to immerse themselves in local cultural, scientific and natural contexts, and to find themselves in the new surroundings of the Sakha Republic and conditions conducive to intensive work, making possible the fruitful implementation of their creative projects.

Yakutia, or the Sakha Republic, is Russia’s biggest region by territorial extent and one of the largest administrative units in the world. If Yakutia were an independent country, it would occupy the 8th place in the world by area. At the same time, in terms of population, Sakha remains one of the most sparsely populated territories on the planet (there are almost 3 km² for every person here, due to the fact that almost 40% of the region’s lands are located beyond the Arctic Circle). At the same time, Yakutia, almost the entirety of which is located in the permafrost zone, is one of the most isolated and inaccessible regions of the world in terms of transport: 90% of the territory has no year-round transport links.
In addition to the general isolation of the region as a whole, the capital of the Republic of Sakha – Yakutsk – is also very far from other large megacities, which makes this region a particularly difficult area for the development of international cultural policy and cultural tourism. On top of the social and economic context, the current political situation also makes the development of art residencies in Yakutia seem not only an effective tool for professional exchange, but also the most important approach to foster the development of international cooperation in the field of culture and arts and the development of creative mobility among art world professionals – something vital for maintaining a viable artistic environment and integrating Yakutia into the global context.

The main objectives of contemporary art residencies are to stimulate professional exchange and creative mobility processes, to provide artists with the opportunity to find inspiration and new material for artistic research, to establish new professional connections, and to stimulate thought about new works and joint projects with international colleagues and like-minded people. At the same time, the functions of art residencies are constantly expanding, being tested in new contexts and formats and going far beyond the traditional cultural exchange and the improvement of professional skills. As such, the AYARKUT AIR residency programme is also a search for a sustainable art residency format that best responds to the challenges of the post-pandemic state of the world.
The three residencies of the programme – “Indigenous Knowledge”, “Soundscape of the Arctic” and “In dialogue with Nature” – are primarily aimed at analysing the local Yakut environment and its development. One of its tasks is to establish a dialogue with both the narrow professional community and a wider audience. The AYARKUT AIR art residency programme is designed to become an effective point of interaction between representatives of various countries and cultures, as well as contribute to the development of the local art scene in Yakutia.

AYARKUT AIR: “Indigenous Knowledge”

The primary problem of the indigenous peoples of the North (IPN) is the disappearance of their natural habitat, traditional way of life, language, and national culture. The deterioration of the environment, social living conditions, and a lack of adequate legislation to protect the interests of the IPN have forced small nationalities to move from their indigenous habitats and native lands. This is accompanied by a loss of national roots, assimilation in big cities, and the rupture of ancestral ties.

The focus of research in the residency will be the harsh everyday life of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic on the permafrost, their unique ethno-cultural heritage, the centuries-old creative experience of transforming the cold world into a developed living space where Nature itself is one’s Home, and the achievements of cultural progress being made before our eyes. Artists will be able to access unique materials on the history and ethnography of the northern Yakuts, get acquainted with the culture of the aboriginal northern communities, hear the stories and historical legends about the settlement of the Yakut clans and about other tribes now lost but preserved in the cultural memory of the people, and learn of the ecological traditions and adaptive technologies to harsh climatic conditions, relying on the scientific traditions of the ethnographic school of V.B. Bogoraz and V.I. Iokhelson in studying the Russian North.

One of the most important mechanisms for preserving the ethno-cultural heritage of the Arctic can be found in the creative potential of the northern nomads, in their eternal movement and aesthetic experience of the cold world as a harmonious state of Nature and Man. Large-scale transformations in agriculture, in the cultural and social life of Northerners in Soviet and post-Soviet times, and the analysis of changes in the traditional way of life of the indigenous peoples of Yakutia have an enduring value today as a topical avenue of study for social anthropology.

Researchers will be able to immerse themselves in the travel strategy of the nomads of the Arctic, where choosing between a variety of paths depended on natural and geographical features, landscape and “scenario schemes” of the life of ethnic communities, and centuries-old experience of the development of the North and the Arctic with its indigenous peoples.

AYARKUT AIR: “The Soundscape of the Arctic”

The concept of a soundscape is a relatively new one for Siberian ethnomusicology and art studies. The Arctic is one of the quietest corners on Earth, tuned to an intonational understanding of nature. This is reflected in the musical folklore of the peoples of the Arctic. In this soundscape, several layers can be distinguished: intonational interaction with nature (the embodiment of the voices of nature in the sound and their comprehension in ritual, song and the recitation of epic poetry), the external projection of a human being’s personality (lyrics, epic poetry, and ritual), and imitative phono-instruments. All of these can be illustrated with unique authentic audio samples (sound images) and photographs (visual images) from the researchers’ own field materials. The soundscape can be considered not only as a subject of research, but also as a new methodology that allows us to identify those aspects of sound culture that have often remained “behind the scenes” (this was developed by Yu.I. Sheikin, O.E. Dobzhanskaya and V.S. Nikiforova as part of the scientific activities of the Laboratory of Integrated Geocultural Studies of the Arctic (headed by Dmitry Zamyatin)). One little studied but highly interesting area of the traditional culture of the peoples of the North is that of onomatopoeia with the calls of birds and animals, and the hunting and reindeer herding signals of the Chukchi, Khanty, Nganasan, etc. Folklore texts of the indigenous peoples of the North perfectly demonstrate the “filling up” and “vitality” of the northern space or the soundscape of the Arctic with the voices of people, gods and spirits, and debunk the stereotype of the emptiness and silence of the cold world that has dominated Russian science for many years.

The “Soundscape of the Arctic” residency is aimed at drawing attention to the need and importance of studying such an intangible sphere of traditional culture of the North as musical heritage, sacred rhythms, melodies, the tunes of ritual holidays, and unique musical instruments of the IPN, and is addressed to Russian and foreign musicians, sound artists and interdisciplinary researchers.

AYARKUT AIR: “In Dialogue with Nature”

In recent years, the issues of ecology and environmental protection, of rational nature management as the basis of economic development, and ensuring the security of territories have become increasingly acute and relevant. They are particularly important for the Arctic territories of Yakutia, whose economy and life support systems are all to a greater or lesser extent connected with the exploitation of natural resources. The state of the environment amid conditions of increasing human impact on it and the growing number of environmental problems for many northern territories of the Sakha Republic exacerbate the threat of natural and man-made emergencies.

Currently, the most urgent problems of environmental protection in the Arctic and northern territories of Yakutia are those of accumulated environmental damage, large-scale dumping associated with mining developments, and areas of localised pollution where the scale of degradation of natural ecosystems has reached dangerous levels. In the aftermath of the large-scale mining of tin ore, gold, coal and other minerals, so-called lunar landscapes have appeared in many areas, appropriate land reclamation measures have not been carried out, and in many places old quarries have become filled with water. The active industrial development of the Arctic and northern territories has a negative impact on reindeer pastures, as a result of which the number of domestic reindeer is decreasing.

In addition, the consequences of global warming are affecting Yakutia in the most striking way, and the Republic is considered one of the world’s leading regions for drastic increases in temperature. Forest fires devastating the Republic are one of the direct consequences of global warming. The melting of the permafrost, which covers the territory of almost all of Yakutia, is another obvious threat that the international community fears due to the possible release of greenhouse gases during its melting. The results of research by scientists from around the world indicate serious changes in permafrost landscapes and note the northward movement of various different species of animals in connection with climate warming. Such processes are fraught with relocation for many residents who live on the icy permafrost.
The focus of the “In Dialogue with Nature” residency will be devoted to artistic research and interpretation of the current environmental problems of Yakutia and the wider world, as well as ways to recreate the lost harmonious ties of man with nature.
The residency programme is supported by the Arctic Institute of Culture and the Arts (AICA) and the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Humanitarian Studies and Problems of Indigenous Peoples of the North. The resident artists of AYARKUT AIR will be able to access the resource base of these institutes, receive scientific advice from their staff and benefit from the expert knowledge needed for the implementation of their art projects.

The Arctic State Institute of Culture and the Arts ( is the only regional university in Russia which trains students in the field of the culture and arts of Russia’s largest region – the North-East of the Arctic zone. AICA is one of the best known leaders in the training of creative professionals drawn from among the small peoples of the Arctic. The key to the Institute’s attractiveness for the youth of the regions of the North, Siberia and the Far East lies in the specificity of content of its educational programmes, based on a combination of academic art forms with the cultural traditions of the native Arctic peoples. An important part of the Institute’s work is carried out at the research centre of circumpolar civilisation. Russia’s leading school of ethnomusicology, headed by Yu.I. Sheikin, has also developed at the AICA. Researchers at this school study the musical and folkloric heritage of the peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East. The Museum of Musical Instruments of the Peoples of Northern Asia was opened at the Institute in 2017, built largely on the unique personal collection of Professor Yu.I. Sheikin. Its exhibits were assembled over more than 25 years of field collections and expeditions.

The Institute of Humanitarian Studies and Problems of Small Peoples of the North, under the auspices of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (, is one of the oldest academic institutions in Siberia with a humanities profile. The Institute, founded on the initiative of prominent statesman and public figure P.A. Oyunsky as a Research Institute of Language and Culture under the Council of People’s Commissars of the Yakut ASSR, has made a huge contribution over the course of its existence to the comprehensive study of the languages, ethnic culture and history of the peoples of the north-eastern part of the Russian state. The main purpose of the Institute’s work is to preserve and develop the national (ethnic) identity and cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of Yakutia. The main areas of scientific activity of the Institute are: the study of languages, literature and folklore of the peoples of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), as well as the small peoples of the North; the study of the historical experience of the formation and evolution of the Arctic civilisation on the territory of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the inclusion of Yakutia in the Russian Empire, and historical events in the Soviet and post-Soviet era; the study of cultural and historical processes on the territory of modern Yakutia in the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages and Mediaeval period, as well as the ethnogenesis, ethnic history, transformation of traditional cultures and the specifics of the mentality of the peoples of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).
Artists over the age of 18 working with painting, sculpture, graphics, photo and video, installation, public art, land art, new media, research-based art, science art, sound art and music. Individual or collective participation is possible (up to 3 people).
The duration of the residency is either 1 or 2 months, to be selected by the participant.
The participant is provided with:
Accommodation in an equipped studio in the centre of Yakutsk
Workshop for work with an area of 30 m² for sharing
PR support for the project in development
Assistance in coordinating the project being developed (introduction to the local context, organisation of meetings, and assistance in finding information and selecting literature)
The participant is expected to:
Implement and present the project during the residency (via exhibition or some other form of presentation, organic to individual each project, depending on the concept)
Deliver a welcome lecture
Hold an additional event in a different format (master class, seminar, field lecture, open day, educational course, etc.)
To cover the cost of air travel to Yakutsk Airport. Visa fees and travel insurance are to be covered by the participants themselves
To provide accommodation in the centre of Yakutsk for the duration of the residency, and cover living expenses (per diem)
To cover the costs of the project (up to 300,000 rubles)
To provide the necessary administrative assistance on the spot, to help the artist get acquainted with the local context, and introduce them to the local art community, as well as to representatives of local institutions and other specialists
The programme cannot provide a joint stay in the residency for artists’ families, but the foundation’s team can help provide recommendations on finding accommodation in Yakutsk
Priority is given to projects that meet the following requirements:
Full compliance of research and artistic interests with the topic of the chosen residency
Site-specificity of the research, involvement of the resource base of partner Yakut organisations, and a focus on working with the local context of Yakutia
A fully elaborated project concept
Drawing up a work plan for the project and a preliminary estimate for its implementation
The AYARKUT AIR Art Residency Programme operates on a competitive basis and will consider all applications submitted before the 31st December 2021 (by 23:59 Yakutia time UTC+9 (GMT+9)

Required documents:
Description of the research or project proposal (PDF file, maximum 3 pages)
CV (PDF file, 25 MB maximum)
An up-to-date creative portfolio (PDF file, 25 MB maximum)
Documents are accepted in Russian or English. Incomplete or incorrectly completed applications will not be considered.

Documents can be sent through online application form (see below).

Or sent by email to with the subject “portfolio_[surname, forename]” (N.B. the name given in the email’s subject title must match the name entered in the online application)

The first set of applications for the AYARKUT AIR Art Residency of the 2022 season is taking place in the format of an open competition for applications from the 13th October to 31st December 2021.
If you have any questions about the residency programmes, please contact us at:
Application form
Full name
Name of the selected art residence
upload files