The title for the Biennale, ‘who are we now’ invites artists and public to reflect on the situation of nomadic peoples during the Anthropocene age. The theme has been placed in a broader perspective by using the present culture of traditional nomadic music which has always bin important in this culture due to the lack of the written word. It’s one of the reasons why their stories, emotions, expression of the landscape and their history are kept alive and transferred with music.
The diversity of nomadic cultures in central Asia are reflected by the nomadic instruments I collected along the way; like a modern nomad, I travel by car and tent along parts of the silk road into Mongolia. Along the journey however I was wondering what was left of this traditional live and the music which goes with it.
A collection of photo’s and audio field recordings of my journey are a part of the result of my findings, considering the fact that I was a modern nomad for 14.000 km looking for answers on many questions about this traditional nomadic life which in the end doesn’t exist anymore in the way I thought it would be. Yes, in Mongolia there are still lots of nomadic herders using a Ger and people who use it to escape the hot city in summertime weekends. But it’s clear to me that also this country is in a big transition now and even the nomads try to adjust to this technocratic age where there is hardly any space left for playing traditional music.
The nomadic instruments are part of the installation where the natural elements of the steppe location bring it to life and determine a sound composition to the rhythm of nature. While placing these instruments to the elements, it will show similarities - the resulting composition of pitch and tone that the instruments are capable of.
A response similar to that of people with their environment. Here modern solar panels and traditional materials go hand in hand in order to pitch and sound. Holding it all together with a construction derived from nomadic tent constructions. Here the modern and traditional go hand in hand in order to achieve a universal language for humanity. While the natural elements of the steppe are conducting this installation on the rhythm of nature.
Sound installation at the Murun Sun steppe location:
Titel: A Nomadic Diptych
Size: 14 x 2 x 2 meter
Materials: Kobyz, (Kazakh shaman violin), Dombra’s (Kazakh string instrument), Morin Khuur (Mongolian horsehead violin), Tuur (Mongolian frame drum), rope, wood, solar panels, electric motors, brass and metal.
Work at the National Gallery For Modern Art in Ulaanbaatar:
Journey panorama photo’s: by Ronald van der Meijs
Audio field recordings during the journey: by Ronald van der Meijs
Video presentation of the installation at Murun Sun: by Ronald van der Meijs
Ronald van der Meijs