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Must Reads Mongolia
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Must Reads Mongolia PDF Print E-mail
News - Art
Sunday, 29 March 2009 12:29

The Mongols - MorganSusan Fox is an artist who has been fascinated with Mongolia for many years. In weekly digests she will take us through some of the must-read books on Mongolia. For anyone who has just started to interested in Mongolia, or for those who just never took the time to read the basics.

So, we’ll start with what is probably the standard history of the Mongols, called, with elegant simplicity, The Mongols. Written by David Morgan and published by Blackwell in 1986, it is part of the publisher’s series on “The Peoples of Europe”. Why the Mongols should be included becomes obvious on page 139, in which the author describes how, in 1241, they invaded Poland and Hungary almost simultaneously in a classic two-pronged attack, crushing both armies of European knights sent against them. Why isn’t eastern Europe Mongol-speaking today? You’ll have to read the book or at least use Teh Googles.

hearing-birds-flyNext up is Hearing Birds Fly, in which the author, Louisa Waugh, tells of her experience in a remote Mongolian village after two years in Ulaanbaatar working at a newspaper called the Ulaanbaatar Post, now known as the UB Post, I believe. Not wanting to go home without living in the countryside that she fell in love with on a previous visit to Mongolia, Louisa takes a teaching job in Tsengal, the most western village in the country, population about 1000. The Peace Corps volunteer who told her about the “opening” recommended that, if she went, “to be sure to bring plenty of food with you, and a stack of books. There won’t be anything to do. Oh, and a toilet paper roll - take lots of that. You know what the countryside is like - they never have that stuff…..Louisa don’t look so worried - I think you’ll have an amazing time.” And she did.

wild-east-jill-jawlessNot surprisingly, some of the best and most interesting books about Mongolia have been written by journalists who were there during the transition from socialism to representative democracy. They were also some of the only foreigners there at the time, other than aid workers. Until the late 1990’s, Mongolia was not a place that one traveled to for a vacation, adventure-style or otherwise, with one exception I’ve found, but that’s for next week.
Jill Lawless arrived in Mongolia to edit the UB Post (It’s a small world over there for westerners, like in many countries with developing or emerging economies. Mongolia falls into the latter category) just in time to experience and document that transition. This is what she found: “Then the Soviet Union collapsed (1990) and with it the supply of money that had amounted to 30% of the country’s GDP. The Russian soldiers and advisors went home. The results were fuel shortages, closed factories, unemployment, scarcity. It has been called the greatest peacetime economic collapse in history……(the international aid community arrives with equal parts money and political advice)…And the Mongols, in their gers and their Soviet-built apartments with the cracks and bad plumbing, looked around, took deep breaths, and plunged in.” In Wild East-Travels in the New Mongolia (ECW Press, 2000), Jill not only covers the big picture of conditions in Mongolia when she got there, but has, by turns; wrenching, amusing and insightful accounts of the Mongolians she meets, works and travels with.

dateline-mongolia-michael-kohnI have to say that my personal favorite “personal account” is Dateline Mongolia-An American Journalist in Nomad’s Land (RDR Books, 2006) byMichael Kohn, who wrote the Lonely Planet guide to Mongolia until last year. He lived in Ulaanbaatar from 1998 until 2000 as editor of a newspaper called the “Mongol Messenger”. One of his adventures involved flying to a dicy border area in Uvs Aimag (an aimag is roughly the same as what we call a “state”) to follow up a story about cross-border (as in the Russian border) cattle theft. Going along to cover the story for a Mongolian radio show that they both did for awhile was….Jill Lawless.
Kohn’s book was the one that had me, page by page, thinking “Yes! That’s the Mongolia I visited!”

In the interests of full disclosure, I must state that Michael Kohn is also a Facebook friend who is still interested in and writing about things Mongolian.

Susan Fox is a nature artist who lives on the north coast of California. She is a member of the Society of Animal Artists, Oil Painters of America, Artists for Conservation and the California Art Club. Her website is at She specializes in the wildlife and land of Mongolia, Kenya and western North America, which she paints using a traditional oil technique.
Last Updated on Sunday, 29 March 2009 12:29
Mongolian Artist Purevbat Receives Prince Claus Award PDF Print E-mail
News - Art
Monday, 23 March 2009 07:36

Ven. Purevbat and Netherlands' Ambassador BekinkOn March 20, the Zanabazar museum hosted the award ceremony for Venerable Lama Purevbat. In the presence of President of Mongolia N. Enkhbayar, Ambassador Rudolf Bekink of the Netherlands presented Ven. Purevbat with the Prince Claus Award. The ceremony which was co-hosted by the Arts Council of Mongolia and was attended by a broad range of state and cultural dignities including Deputy Parliamentary Speaker N. Enkhbold, Deputy Premier M. Enkhbold, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Su. Batbold, UB Mayor G. Monkhbayar, Khamba Lama of Gandantegchinlen Monastery D. Choijamts, Khamba Lama Ch. Dambajav of Dashchoiling Monastery, the French and Korean ambassadors and representatives of the Dutch community in Ulaanbaatar.

The award ceremony coincided with the opening of a grand exhibition of the works of Ven. Purevbat. The extensive exhibition displays a wide variety of artworks including appliqués and paintings.

Purevbat has worked to revitalize Buddhist philosophy and art in Mongolia, after its suppression under communist rule. He founded a school to train artists and teachers in disciplines such as painting, sculpting, appliqué, architecture and dance. For this purpose he established the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art (MIBA) which has organized several international exhibitions, documents historical sites and undertakes restoration projects and the re-introduction of festivals. His work includes creating a masters course for graduates and his ongoing writing of a 23-volume series on Buddhist art theories and techniques. The Prince Claus Awards noted, in announcing the award, "Purevbat's fine artworks, inspirational activities and dissemination of knowledge have created a renaissance in Mongolian cultural identity and timely self-affirmation. Artist and scholar, Venerable Purevbat is honored for the rigorous authenticity of his methods and techniques, for re-establishing an important 'un-modern' aesthetic practice, for his dedication and generosity in fostering future generations, and for nurturing local identity through artistic tradition and culture."His works distinguishes itself by looking for new ways to use traditional techniques, although referred to as 'un-modern' in the jury report, the artist is not shy to use first class cartoons as inspirations for his work, while keeping deeply routed in the Buddhist traditions.

The annual Prince Claus Awards are presented to offer individuals and organizations new opportunities and recognition. Since 1997 the awards are presented annually to artists, thinkers and cultural organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. This year Indian writer Indira Goswami won the main award and ten laureates were given to a wide range of artists including a sculptor from Senegal, performance artist from Cuba, photographer from Nigeria and - as mentioned - Ven. Purevbat from Mongolia. The Prince Claus Award laureate consists of EUR 25,000. 
The award is presented at a time that the Netherlands is increasing its presence in Mongolia and strengthening both political and cultural ties. Recently a Netherlands embassy liason office was established in Ulaanbaatar. Ambassador Bekink appointed Mr. Tjalling Halbertsma as his representative in Mongolia. The office is established to manage Netherlands projects and further cooperation between Mongolia and The Netherlands, mostly in the field of environment. The Netherlands development programme in Mongolia has an annual budget of 8 milion euro.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 March 2009 11:21
Exhibition Of Mongolian Artists in Cafe Amsterdam PDF Print E-mail
News - Art
Thursday, 05 March 2009 03:52
Cafe Amsterdam Exhibition
On March 4 Café Amsterdam held the opening of a series of exhibitions of art works created by some of Mongolia’s leading contemporary artists. The first exhibition in this continuing series  features works by the members of the New Century art association, as well as other talented young artists whose works give form and expression to the forces of globalization that have been unleashed in post-socialist Mongolia. 

Exhibiting Artists: AMARSAIKHAN Namsraijav, BOLORMAA  Ganbat, ZESEE Sodnomtseren, ODMAA Uranchimeg, UNDRAA Vandan, ENKHBAT Lantuu, TUVSHINJARGAL Tsend-ayush
VERNISSAGE/OPENING 4 March 2009, 7pm
continuing exhibition 4 March - 24 March, 8am-10pm
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 March 2009 03:54
The Mongolian Villain in the Movies PDF Print E-mail
News - Art
Thursday, 05 March 2009 03:10

Mongolian Matters - The Post Cold War villain impasse is continuing. Since the Soviet Union collapsed Russian weapon trade might still fill a few movies (James Bond's Goldeneye, Lord of War), North Korea might entertain once or twice, but even terrorism gets a bit boring after a while. So why not look at.....Mongolia
At the moment in Houston an exhibition on Genghis Khan (Chingis Khaan for friends) tries to explain the more detailed story of Mongolian warriors riding the steppes. Although not much appreciated in his home country, international movies as "Mongol" and the upcoming "The Mystery of Genghis Khan" have tried some diffirent angles on the great leader.

In the meantime however Hollywood seems to have rediscovered the archetype of the brutal Mongolian Warrior. The blogs have been noting. In a month time 2 mayor movies were casting "Mongolians" and a US TV series is feauturing a Mongolian Warrior as its episode-villian.
Mongolian Demon
Iron Man 2's casting efforts involves the search for a "Mongolian gangster" and a MTV interpreteds that as "organized crime out of Mongolia". The same blog mentions the Marvel Comics "resident Mongolian crime lord Haan Kaishek". Sounds scary, in more than one sence.
If that is not your cup of tea there is a whole clan of extras sought for M. Night Shyamalan's new film. After suprising audiences worldwide with the Sixth Sense, 'M.' has been more succesful in annoying or boring them ever since. For the new flick he is now looking for "Mongolian-American males and females between the ages of 5 and 85" to join him in these efforts. But the most shocking reference popped-up in google news today: "Sam Attacked by Mongolian Demons" is the heading of an article that details the episode of a bizar series called Reaper. The actual episode title is Dirty Sexy Mongol. How more distasteful can we get? Well take a look at the guy. Even Steven Seagal looks more Mongolian.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 March 2009 04:59
Grant to assist in funding Mongolian movie PDF Print E-mail
News - Art
Thursday, 29 January 2009 01:08
A Mongolian film company has been awarded international funding for its next big-screen production. 

An announcement was made this week at the International Film Festival Rotterdam that the Prince Claus Fund Film will provide $20,000 to assist in producing the Mongolian movie “Birdie” by B.Sakhya. This is being produced through Guru Media.  

Birdie is a film about "a boy from a poor Mongolian family struggling with the enduring harsh reality of a society in transition."  

The Prince Claus Fund grant is given every year to a filmmaker from Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Caribbean. 
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