27 local and international artists in total participated in Mongolia 360, creating an extremely diverse range of work. For his contribution, Mongolian artist Chimeddorj Shagdarjav wrapped a 10-ton large rock in clear plastic packaging, replicating the details of Mongolian duty free shopping bags at larger-than-life scale. We might interpret this work as a provocation to audiences to consider the environmental impact of tourism and long-distance air travel on the fragile ecology of Mongolia. Maro Avrabou and Dimitri Xenakis’ works addressed water and arable land scarcity. Water consisted of 6 blue fabric circles (each of three meters in diameter) arranged systematically on a flat stretch of desert. Kitchen Garden consisted of 700 crumpled green rubbish bags set out in a geometric array to look like a domestic garden of lettuce heads. In both cases, a single color served to evoke the scarcity of a resource, the absence of pools of blue water and the impossibility of growing salad leaves respectively. Other works variously commented on the expansion of the Gobi desert, the effects of mining, and the relationship between human bodies and the earth.
Mongolia 360 is commendable as a coherent program of land art, curated and executed in often difficult physical conditions. It brought much deserved attention to the artistic and ecological circumstances of a region about which little is generally known, temporarily transforming landscapes of rock, sand, and grass into places rich in meaning and significance. While the interventions did not necessarily make direct improvements to the ecological balance of the region, they nevertheless highlight urgent issues pertaining to the continued existence of human and other life forms, with a degree of humor and imagination.
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