Spotlighting economic disparities through the creative offerings of traditional bread

Traditional Mongolian biscuits are the conduit for community engagement in Art Boortsog. Everyone is invited to order a biscuit from the mobile food cart, but with a twist — they are encouraged to specify any shape they desire and the artists work to form the dough of this local treat into the requested shape. While making the biscuits, the artists engage the participants in conversations about art, sustainability, hunger, and economic conditions.

Art Boortsog traveled to three different locations in Ulaanbaatar in order to cover a range of socioeconomic places — a landfill site where families live, a ger district, and the city center. Many Ulaanbataar residents never would consider going to these spaces of extreme poverty, and the artists were able to highlight that fact by incorporating documentation of the event at the landfill into the installation at the city center.

For project creators Ganzug and Enerel, the experience brought surprises. While delivering invaluable food for mind and body to the most marginalized communities in Ulaanbataar, they gained the opportunity to confront their own practices in unexpected ways. Both artists historically worked alone, making artwork with a social statement, but not interactive. During Art Boortsog, though, the dough sculptures were dictated by the audience, and this uncontrolled art-making expanded their understanding of the social issue. Their interactions varied — from grateful kids in poor ger districts requesting heart-shaped boortsog to alcoholics repeatedly requesting lewd shapes. During the final exhibition at UB Park, Art Boortsag was shared via images of the site-specific installations — and of course, the artists made boortsog for all!

Community Project Members:

Ganzug Sedbazar, Enerel Enee

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