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Lost children of Ulaanbaatar

By M.OYUNGEREL

“Lost Children of Heaven II”, a group exhibition, is on view at 976 Art Gallery through January 15.
Aiming to raise public awareness through art, the exhibition is being organized for the second time by the Mongolian Contemporary Art Support Association and the Embassy of the United States in Ulaanbaatar. When it was first presented in 2013, the exhibition focused on socioeconomic issues. This year, “Lost Children of Heaven” is targeting the life-threatening air pollution levels in Ulaanbaatar.
The U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia, Jennifer Galt, gave opening remarks at the exhibition. She spoke about the main points concerning cooperation between Mongolia and the U.S. on important issues such as air pollution, and the significance of art in public understanding. “Artistic expression knows no geographical boundaries, just as air pollution knows no geographical boundaries,” Galt said.
“We talk a lot, but we are here, witnessing that emotions are far more powerful than words,” said head of the air quality department at the Ulaanbaatar Mayor’s Office Ch.Batsaikhan, later specifying that air pollution is a public issue. “As our great leader D.Sukhbaatar said, ‘Each and every one of us has a role’. This exhibition leads people to pay attention to the sore points, and will contribute greatly to solving the problem,” he said.
The exhibition consists of mixed media projects, paintings, installation, video, and photography from six artists. Doctor A.Enkhjargal, a member of the Mongolian Public Health Professionals’ Association, gave basic information and statistics about air pollution to the artists, which triggered a thought-provoking exhibition.
The hall welcomes the viewer with a work by the youngest participating artist, Tugssaruul. Tugssaruul graduated from the National University of Mongolia in physics. “Although he’s not a professional designer, he is as good as a professional,” said B.Gantuya, the director of 976 Art Gallery. His photo manipulations included the juxtaposition of fresh and polluted air, which remind us that we have a choice between the two.
The story of a hardworking ant fighting air pollution was written by B.Temuulen, a student at the Central University of Finance and Economy in China. She was chosen as the winner of an essay competition that the gallery held for the exhibition. The story is available in both Mongolian and English in the hall.
T.Enkhbold, who presented work for the Venice Biennale, participated with an installation. “I wanted to show that overconsumption is pulling people apart and degrading the environment,” the artist said.
B.Munkhtsetseg, a master of Mongol zurag technique, drew inspiration from a friend with cancer. A diptych presents parts of a bald woman in gray, intending to show that the spirit can win over the body.
After participating in the Beijing Biennale, Ts.Tuvshinjargal worked on her piece “Inside Out”. She found an image of the lungs of a person who had died from complications linked to air pollution in Sydney, Australia. The image was transferred to a self portrait, with contrasting images divided by mirrors. The work shows what a face would look like if our skin, instead of our lungs, were severely damaged by air pollution. “The mirrors signify repetition. I am a representative of this society and everyone is facing this problem. By laying out the effects outside of the body, people easily understand the harms of this polluted air,” said Ts.Tuvshinjargal.
In the recesses of the gallery is a video piece by five artists, D.Bayarkhuu, J.Gantulga, Ts.Davaajargal, D.Dorjderem, and G.Munkhbolor. The work shows the effects of air pollution on a human body. The toxic gases in the bones, the lungs, and in the brain made me think of the stress that covers the Ulaanbaatar population as thickly as the smoke and is, in fact, caused by the smoke.
The opening of the exhibition included performance art by B.Chinbat. The piece was titled “Ulaanbaatar’s Electrocardiography”. He painted with a broom to the sound of a violin played by E.Munkh-Erdene, lead violinist at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. “My work is related to mothers and children, due to a high miscarriage and mortality rate in unborn children. A child’s lungs, as white and spotless as the canvas at the beginning of the performance, are scarred by the pollutants in the air. The broom I used to paint with represents the need to clean up all the smoke,” said B.Chinbat.
The name and the focus of the exhibition made me think that we might be children from heaven lost in the thick smoke of Ulaanbaatar.

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Posted by on Dec 23 2015. Filed under Arts & Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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