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Robert McPherson March 10, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mongolia.
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Kazakhs building a Ger in Mongolia, 2012

Robert McPherson (b.1982, Norway) began freelancing for Norway’s Aftenposten national newspaper in 2011. He is a member of Metaphor Images, an international documentary photographer`s collective based in Australia. Robert studied for a Bachelor of Communications at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia. He graduated in 2006 with an honours degree focusing on documentary photography. During his studies he traveled to Kyrgyzstan and has since continued his long term documentary project on nomads in Central Asia. His work from the Kibera slum in Nairobi Kenya was part of an exhibition at Visa Pour l`Image in 2011. He has been nominated for the Picture of the Year Award in Norway for 2013 .

About the Photograph:

“During summertime nomads move camp more frequently in order to find pasture land for their animals. During wintertime they live in houses built of mud and wood. This image shows a moment during the set up of a new camp in summer. When I turned around I was struck by this Kazakh girl entering the unfinished Yurt (Ger) while her parents were taking a  break from construction. Kazakhs are descendants of Turkic and Mongol tribes and are pastoral nomads of the steppes of Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Most of the vast expanses of these countries are semi-arid land that is desolate and frozen in the winter and turns to lush, green meadow in mid-spring. The steppes are invaluable pastureland for the sheep, horses, cattle, and camels that are essential to the Kazakh people.
The ancestors of modern-day Kazakhs were nomadic or semi-nomadic, and many of their customs reflect that lifestyle. Nowadays, people live mostly in cities and villages, although some still lead an agricultural life. The nomadic culture is under threat from these changes in priorities.”

Michele Palazzi December 9, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mongolia.
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Gobi Desert, Mongolia 2012

Michele Palazzi (b.1984, Italy) earned his masters degree in photography at the Scuola Romana di Fotografia. In 2009 he received the Enzo Baldoni Prize for his project 3:32am on the earthquake in Abruzzo. Between 2010 and 2011 he worked on the project Migrant Workers Journey which was a recipient of the Project Launch Award 2011 at Center Santa Fe and exhibited in the New Mexico Museum of Art. It was screened at the Visa Pour l’Image 2012. In 2013 he won the Environmental Photographer of the Year Award from CIWEM in the UK. Michele’s project Black Gold Hotel was exhibited at the Format Festival (UK) in 2013. His work has been published in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The British Journal of Photography and National Geographic (Italy). He lives in Rome.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph was taken while I was living with a nomad family in the Gobi desert, Tuvshinbayar, the father, is playing with his children during a sandstorm. It’s part of the project Black Gold Hotel, a journey in the daily lives of a few families from the Gobi desert, where the pasture which has been the main livelihood for centuries has been disappearing in the past few decades. On one hand, those who chose to continue the tradition of the steppe despite all difficulties, on the other those who preferred to take their chances in the large cities, unfortunately facing the reality of a space which is deteriorated and invaded by unreachable western cultural models.”

Jeroen Toirkens September 2, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mongolia.
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Dukha Herders in Mongolia, Hövsgöl Aimag, 2007

Jeroen Toirkens (b. 1971, Netherlands) studied Photographic Design at the Royal Academy for the Visual Arts in The Hague. Since 1995 has been working as a freelance photographer. He has published photo essays in Air France Magazine, Monocle, Le Monde Magazine, De Morgen and several other Dutch and International newspapers and magazines. In 2011 his book Nomads Life was published by Belgian publisher Lannoo. Since 1999 Jeroen made eleven trips Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, the tundras in Northern Siberia and Alaska and to the taigas in Southern Siberia and Northern Mongolia. In 2012 he was awarded the CANON prize for the best innovative photo story for his project Nomads Life.

About the Photograph:

“This picture was taken in Northern Mongolia where the Dukha, a small group of reindeer herders, live under extreme circumstances in the wooded Taiga. During the winter months, the temperatures can fall to 50 degrees (centigrade) below zero. On Baruun (Western) and Zuun (Eastern) Taiga, there are still about forty-one families. They travel along with the reindeer that go in search of food and move ever further into the Taiga. They relocate their camp on average of  five to eight times a year. In this picture the young girl called Tool, is holding two fully grown reindeer. It shows how domesticated the Dukha’s reindeer are. They use the reindeer for transport when they move from one camp to another. The picture is taken on the first of June, the night before half a meter of snow fell.”

How Hwee Young February 8, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in China, Mongolia.
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Shaman brothers, Ulan Bator, Mongolia 2012

How Hwee Young (b. 1978, Singapore) joined The Straits Times in 2001 as one of the few female photojournalists. In 2004 she joined the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) to cover Singapore and Southeast Asia until relocating to Beijing in 2010. She is primarily drawn to covering events involving the human condition like the 2004 Asian Tsunami or the 2009 Indonesian Padang Earthquake. She earned an Award of Excellence by Communication Arts 46th Annual photography exhibition in 2005 for her work on the Asian Tsunami. Her photographs have been published in: The International Herald Tribune, LA Times, The Sydney Herald, The Telegraph, New York Times, TIME magazine, Der Spiegel, and GEO Magazine among others. Young is based in Beijing.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is part of a series about a pair of Shaman brothers in Ulan Bator, Mongolia as they prepare to talk to me about their Shamanistic lives. Shamans are priests or mediums that act as vessels for spirits, gods and demons to communicate with the human world. In Mongolia, they adhere to the ancient beliefs of Tengrism, where spirits live in all of nature, in the sun, moon, lakes, rivers, mountains, and trees. This ancient faith predominated the land in the 13th century during the time of Genghis Khan or Chinggis Khan but was brutally suppressed under decades of communist rule from 1924 to 1990. Lately, this ancestor worship has seen a resurgence, as many sought to fill a spiritual void in a fast-urbanized landscape dominated by the burgeoning mining industry.”

 “Gankhuyag and his brother Batgerel became Shamans only two years ago where before they were only ordinary construction workers. Illnesses and misfortunes plague them and their family members, causing them to seek the advice of a Shaman. It was revealed then that they had been chosen by spirits to serve as Shamans. Only by doing so will their lives improve and avoid further miseries. Batgerel said ‘When I first heard that I have been chosen to receive the spirits, I did not believe it and was angry and ignored the calling. But my life became worse and I began to believe. After receiving the spirits, my life and health became better and now I live in happiness. I am very thankful to the spirits and this way of life’. The two brothers do not charge a specific amount for their Shamanic services which range from channeling advice from spirits to ‘curing’ diseases. Worshippers are asked to donate any amount they please. However, they warned that not all Shamans are genuine and many fake it for the money. For Gankhuyag and Batgerel, living with the spirits and their rituals, celebrating a connection to nature unique to their culture, is a way of life in the vast changing grasslands of Mongolia.”

Alessandro Grassani March 12, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mongolia.
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Ulaan Baator, Mongolia 2011

Alessandro Grassani (b. 1977, Italy) graduated in photography from the Riccardo Bauer Institute in Milano. His work has been published in Time Magazine and The Sunday Times and exhibited in personal and collect shows including at the Photography Festival of Arles. In 2010 he began a long-term project called, “Environmental Migrants: The last illusion” documenting  life of people worldwide forced to migrate because of climate change. He was awarded at Premio Internacional de Fotografia Humanitaria Luis Valtuena (First prize, 2011) IPA, International Photography Awards (Third prize, 2011),the  SOFA Global World Photo Award (special mention, 2011), and the Memorial Mario Giacomelli (special mention, 2010). Alessandro is represented by Luz Photo.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph is part of the Environmental Migrants project. It was shot under the staircase where the Jigjjav family live. Jargalsaikhan a former shepherd, sits with his family: his wife, two daughters (one of them, Dyun Erdene, 26 year old, is beside him in the picture) and his four year old nephew playing on the stairs. His wife is an apartment guard and so they  live in a space under the staircase in the building where my wife works. The family  moved to the city after the Dzud -the more extreme Mongolian winter – killed their 150 sheep. Now, they live off the meager earnings brought in by his wife, who works as an apartment guard in the building. She is the only one with a job.” (more…)

Richard Wainwright June 12, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mongolia.
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The coldest capital city in the world. Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, 2008

Richard Wainwright (b.1973, England) received a degree in Documentary Photography at University of Wales, Newport Richard has been reporting on news and humanitarian issues. He has been a senior staff photographer with the Jersey Evening Post since 2002 and also works closely with aid agencies on assignment documenting their activities, writing stories and producing multimedia packages. Since 2003, he has been filing news pictures for Corbis. His work has been widely published including Newsweek, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Independent and The Irish Independent. His work has resulted in numerous exhibitions in Jersey, London and Australia.

About the Photograph:

“This assignment to Mongolia was shot for an upcoming exhibition in Jersey for the Amnesty Human Rights Film Festival. The trip resulted in two seperate stories and multimedia presentations Mongolia: Urbanisation & Effects and Mongolia: Surviving the Winter. This picture shows Munkhbat & Altangeret (both 15) who have lived in a manhole together for over three years under the streets of Ulaan Baatar, the coldest capital city in the world. I spent time with them throughout the weeks and witnessed what a tough, lonely and violent existence they have to endure in temperatures reaching -40c. They were forced into this situation by divorced and deceased parents but they still hope and strive for a better future. Despite the harsh conditions they haven’t succumbed to the cheap vodka like the many other street children.”

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