Displaced research seeks to understand the role photography has played in the evolution of Mongolian herder society, past, and present. It investigates the relationships between human beings and the space they inhabit. My photographs in this creative practice address these notions through social documentary practice that incorporates portraiture and urbanscapes depictions. The herder Mongolians are the main focus of my photographs, but equally are the space and place the herders’ inhabit. It began in 2001 when I first visited the rural and private spaces of herders’ homes. By exploring their new (2019) urban spaces inside the ger district, I find a new perspective from which to contemplate their environments of everyday life.
Over the last two decades, large numbers of herder families have been forced – by changing economic and climate conditions, and the push by the government for urban growth – off their traditional lands and into the urban districts of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. This migration and consequent changes in lifestyle have influenced the herders’ identity, relationships, and social customs. Macro issues, such as economic conditions, changing political structures, and shifting technologies, have had a substantial impact on this previously nomadic society. Relinquishing their ancestral lifestyle, displaced Mongolian herders are going through a re-identification, and this creative research study seeks to see if a photographic practice can go some way to herders’ identifying with their new surroundings.
More specifically the research is interested in the role of the photographic portraiture and broader questions of representation and if posing for photographs follows a continuum of photographic practice handed down from one generation to the next.
Traditionally and still often seen today in the northern, rear part of the ger, the khoimor houses a chest with photo-board sitting on it or hanging on the wall above. The photo-board contain a montage of portrait-style photographs of kin from both the mother and father’s side. Empson (2011:118) argues how, ‘this montage creates a pile, or layering, of different images over time, as old photographs are concealed behind new ones’, a physical and visible family tree with the less important people buried, forgotten about and out of sight, creating an unsophisticated, but effective order system.
AA Shadow of a Man – Wally Richards
Through the eyes of Wal Richards an accidental documentary photographer when most community people didn’t have cameras, his photographs capturer a unique vision of small country Victoria. Over fifty years his 20,000 images capturer a remarkable social history collection leaving an indelible imprint of weddings and people of Maryborough, Victoria, Australia.
My creative practice seeks to document and narrate Wal Richards story five years after his death.
Two Cultures | Two Photographers
‘Harnessing Difference’ examines how two documentary photographers from different cultures and diverse upbringings and opportunities collaborate on a cross-cultural project that documents the life and activities of Australian cattlemen & women.
In 2017 Mongolian photographer Mr. Davaanyam Delgerjargal come to Australia on a RMIT University scholarship with School of Art. Lecturer and Australian photographer Jerry Galea and Mr. Delgerjargal collaborate and examine how two photographers from opposite sides of the world photograph through a lens of diversity, difference & similarity.
The subjects, cattlemen, and women living off the land herding cattle in the mountains of the Victorian High Country, 500 kilometers from Melbourne in Australia.
Every since the inception of photography, the image has been used as tool to communicate and influence opinions. In recent years, cheap technologies have made cameras readily available to large numbers of people who previously would not have opportunities.
As part of my research, in 2016 I provided affordable digital cameras to twelve Mongolian herder families now living in the urban ger district on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. The camera gave them an opportunity to express their emotions and thoughts, to share what they find interesting with others and document their experiences.
Over six thousand images were taken, of family, children playing, portraits, the countryside, shrines, Genghis Khan Square, cutting of hair celebrations and many more amazing photographs.
MMongolian Lens 1: Raises Awareness of Social Issues
Mongolia’s rapid social change captured through the lenses of its first generation of indigenous documentary photographers.
Before independence the 1990 Democratic Revolution, Mongolians were the subject and object of photographs for the government politburo or snapped by adventurous travellers. Nearly thirty years on Mongolia can now celebrate being both in front of and behind the lens. Mongolians are now framing a new paradigm and presenting their view of their own world.
In partnership with Magnet Gallery, Mongolian Lens 1 gives Melbournians their first glimpse of a generation of Mongolians documentary photographers empowered to tell their own stories. Their photographs provide a close-up and intimate view of the social change and tensions of this extraordinary nation as its traditional ways of life become unsustainable, and yet its new cities are slow to offer much to compensate as they struggle with the challenges of rapid economic development and encroaching globalisation.