Thursday, February 18, 2016

8th Asia Pacific Triennial Q&A: Mongolia’s Gerelkhuu Ganbold

The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) is Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s (QAGOMA) flagship international contemporary art event, and the only major exhibition series in the world to focus exclusively on the contemporary art of Asia, the Pacific, and Australia.

The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8), which opened on November 21 and continues until April 10 2016, showcases the work of more than 80 established and emerging artists and groups from more than 30 countries across the two gallery spaces of the QAGOMA complex.

This edition of APT emphasizes the role of performance in recent art and explores the use of the human form to express cultural, social, and political ideas as well as what QAGOMA describes as “the role of artists in articulating experiences specific to their localities.”

Throughout the duration of APT8, BLOUIN ARTINFO will feature a series of interviews with participating artists. In the interview below, Mongolian artist Gerelkhuu Ganboldand discusses his work “Soldiers who don’t know themselves.”

Drawing on a variety of sources, including the genres of Mongol zurag painting and equestrian art, as well as contemporary comics and science-fiction cinema, Ganboldand that unite the traditional and the contemporary.

In “Soldiers who don't know themselves,” he “simultaneously allegorizes the uncertainty of life in the rapidly changing country as it experiences a period of unprecedented urbanization and widespread economic uncertainty,” according to QAGOMA.

Could you describe the work that you will be presenting at the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) and the motivation and inspiration behind its creation?

The work that I am presenting at APT8, “Soldiers who don’t know themselves” 2013, is based on the work “Mercenaries” 2012. The compositions of these works are similar, but “Mercenaries” has tight repetition of horses and men. In “Soldiers who don’t know themselves” 2013, the troops are no longer a cohesive unit, upright and proud, but much wider apart.

This new space catches the eye quickly for it suggests an entirely different tale: This time, it is one of isolation, defeat, lack of purpose and direction. There is no confidence here. Even though these works look and feel different, both of them are narrating our society, just in different ways.

How does the work you are presenting at APT8 connect with your ongoing practice, the history and culture of your country, and the interests and preoccupations that form the basis of your work?

Right now I am working on a new work. The meaning and composition of this work is similar to the work in Apt8 with many soldiers and horses walking. They have a route, but they are empty inside. This work, which is much bigger than “Soldiers don’t know themselves,” is an ink on paper executed in black and white.

How would you define and describe your position as a Mongolian artist and the status of your practice within the context of the wider Asia Pacific art scene?

For me as a Mongolian artist living in an underpopulated country it is hard to be make the world listen what we are saying or see what we are doing. For me we always need to know what we are doing, where are we, where are we came from. But sometimes this seems impossible. It feels like I am a parentless child who is working for a living and looking for parents.

What do you want to convey and/or express with the work you are presenting at APT8?

My works are mostly presenting the world we are living in with things left behind – the past. I want to express my feeling about the society I’m living in. We have a rich history and heritage, but in the present time we have nothing but our history.

The art of Mongolia is one of the focuses of APT8. How do you remain connected with the traditions and history of Mongolia while at the same time produce work that is relevant to a contemporary audience and progresses and develops that local art scene?

Connecting to traditions and history is very complicated. If I was only carrying on the forms of tradition it would be easy, but it needs its own content. Time goes and goes. Things change. We can’t live on tradition. I’m trying to find harmony between tradition, history, and the contemporary world.

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