States of the Arts


The Madness of Domesticity

by Tsendpurev Tsegmid

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We sit at a coffee table, across from an unknown woman, capturing the encounter in a series of images. Her face is cropped out, leaving only her hands to provide us with conversational cues. In several shots, a flurry of fingers encroaches upon the foreground, unsettling the focus of the camera, almost toppling the instrument from its perch. The contour of a luminous tan traces our gaze, moulding the shoulders, sloping over skin. Our observance slants, as it traverses the valley of the Bardot neckline. Collar bones furrow forward, then open out. Facing the sitter head-on, we are cast in the role of photographer and voyeur.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

The Cave of the Yellow Dog

directed by Byambasuren Davaa
Documentary, feature film

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We see the lush steppes of a Mongolian landscape, its mountains rolling far into the distance. The sound of car engines disrupts the rustic tranquillity. A windmill’s shadow is cast over earth that now bears the marks of industry. The Cave of the Yellow Dog reflects on the fading of nomadic life, capturing the plight of a family as they adjust to shifting cultural norms. The eldest daughter must endure the initiations that pave the way to adulthood, and ready herself for change. Her family prepares to reassemble its yurt, while others pack up for good.

Words by Hugh Maloney

Each Sunrise

by Galsan Tschinag

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In Galsan Tschinag’s poem, sunrise is celebrated as a daily miracle, an event that the narrator sees worthy of noting down in a ledger book. The appearance of this heavenly body dictates the rhythm of life, marking each day’s beginning. Generations have woken and retired according to its movements. History is emblazoned into fingertips by the heat of the great, fiery light: ‘You can see their marks / Compiled as ancient scripture / Each cipher / Burned into me’. Short lines, never more than half a dozen words long, loosely depict the majesty of the morning, with the text illuminated by the subject of its admiration.

Words by Hugh Maloney


by Altan Urag

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A drum is struck repeatedly, the first beat of every four accented. A double bass provides a low, resonant drone. Reverberating above, the piercing strings of a yoochin offer another four-note phrase, each pitch a leap up from the last. A morin khuur enters next, bowing a slow, expressive melody. The bass moves from a static murmur to outline new harmonies, as the ensemble's energy peaks. A thunderous cymbal initiates a syncopated rhythm. Sustained throat singing sounds, the earthy hum and fragile harmonies lending the work a touch of the ethereal.

Words by Hugh Maloney

More to discover

The Madness of Domesticity: You can view more of Tsendpurev Tsegmid's works on her official website (here), Vimeo page (here), and Flickr account (here). The artist has also written a short article on a photograph from her childhood for The Guardian.

The Cave of the Yellow Dog: You can view the trailer here. There are two articles about the film on The Bark's website: this interview with the director by Cameron Woo, and this article by Edward Guthmann.

Each Sunrise: There is a wealth of information on Galsan Tschinag available on Richard Hacken's website, including translations of his poetry collections, here. A translation of 'Each Sunrise' can be found towards the bottom of this page.

Temuujin: You can listen to the song here.

Question of the day

Which Mongolian artworks would you recommend, and why?
Let us know on
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The folksong 'Gada Meiren', an epic narrative of more than six hundred lines about a Mongolian rebel leader. The song often brings me the wordless experience of both transience and eternity. (→)

– Yiyun Li, author of 'The Vagrants' and 'A Thousand Years of Good Prayers'  (via The Brief →)

A Pearl in the Forest, directed by Enkhtaivan Agvaantseren. An ultra-realist account of the Mongolian Great Purge filmed with local villagers. (→)

– Lewis Coenen-Rowe, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Patreon →)

Also on Silent Frame