Rhizomic Space, a nomadic space by Chyanga(Qin Ga) highlights Mongolia Pavilion
at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
A Journey Through Vulnerability
The fourth appearance of Mongolia at the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia features Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav (Mugi), one of the foremost figures of contemporary art in Mongolia. During her long-distinguished career, Mugi (b.1967) has significantly contributed to the growth of Mongolian contemporary art and has exhibited locally and internationally.
Mugi’s artistic practice incorporates sculptures, paintings, videos, and performances and explores the notion of pain, fear, healing, and rebirth. Mainly reflecting her personal experiences, Mugi’s work investigates the complexities of female bodies, minds, and souls, and the connection with one-self and nature, capturing the tensions between different realms. Seemingly fictional yet grounded, her unique works embody invisible forces, such as spirits and myths, and tell sensible stories of women, unborn children, and the sorrowful fates of animals.
Inspired by Mongolian traditional healing methods and spiritual therapy, the process of her artistic creation is deeply intuitive and ritual-like. Through embodiments of the subject matter that evoke strong sentiments and juxtapositions of symbolic elements used for healing and protection, she meditatively examines the nature of her own anxiety and the process of its healing. Her particular ways of tearing, cutting, collating and stitching imply pain, anxiety, fear, hope and patience and create a specific language that allows Mugi to articulate and manifest her inner feelings and visions. In her works, birds represent the pulse of life, pregnancy, healing and protection, whereas female bodies represent her constant search for inner strength. The concept of reincarnation is the foremost interest of her artistic journey.
A Journey Through Vulnerability presents a series of installations, including soft sculptures, collages, video pieces, created by the artist during the last 15 years. The works are spread across three different rooms titled “Miscarriage”, “Dream of Gazelle”, and “Pulse of Life” and narrate stories of women and animals, offering the viewer a journey through the intimate, fragile, yet powerful world of Mugi.
The exhibition is curated by Gantuya Badamgarav, the founding director of the Mongolian Contemporary Art Support Association. She initiated and organized Mongolia’s first-ever participation at the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2015, then the Mongolian Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2017 and Biennale Arte 2019, curating the latter one. Upon the initiative led by the Minister of Culture Nomin Chinbat, 2022 Mongolia Pavilion follows a landmark decision made by the Government to ensure the continued participation of Mongolia henceforth at the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.
孟和琪琪格·扎拉哈扎布 ©Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav, 2022
Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav (Mugi) is a Mongolian contemporary artist, whose works range from painting to sculpture and performance to collage. Mugi was born in 1967 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She graduated from the Fine Art College, Ulaanbaatar in 1987, and currently lives and works in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Between 1989 and 1992, she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Minsk Theater. However, she chose not to graduate because of her dissatisfaction with the curriculum under the socialist regime. “Healing” and “rebirth” are key words in her works. Through her work, she engages with our constant ambition of searching for our inner self and attempts of creating ourselves by the idea of “becoming wholesome”. The aura of the her works and concepts are very much inspired by Mongolian traditions and spiritual healing. Mugi’s recent solo exhibitions include A Journey Through Vulnerability, Mongolia Pavilion at the 59thInternational Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Italy, 2022; Inner Passage or A Journey through Vulnerability at Art Space 976+ Ulaanbaatar; Healing at Toono Gallery Ulaanbaatar; Reincarnation at Personal Structures collateral in Venice Biennial 2015, Palazzo Bembo, Italy.Group exhibitions include Go Nomadic Together, Rhizomic Space, Beijing; Speaking Lights and Shadows, Art Space 976+, Ulaanbaatar; Beyond Heaven and Earth: Mongolian Art In This Day and Age, China Art Museum; Transcending Territories at Shin Thai Art Gallery, Huh Hot, China; Women In_Between: Asian Women Artists 1984 -2012, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.