“Mining”, an exhibition by T.Enkhbold at 976 Gallery, open until 19 May, is a radical exploration of identity. The artist takes the idea of mining – something so central to Mongolian society – and uses it as a powerful tool for introspection.

Through aromas, sound, and imposing pieces, T.Enkhbold creates the sensation of being in an enclosed underground space so the viewer longs for escape just as he does, as he addresses what we are trying to be free from. His aim is to “create a spiritual contemplation through portrayal, sound, and smell.”

For the artist, these two ideas – freeing himself from limitations and “mining” himself to discover who he really is – are closely tied and he discusses this in his exhibition.

For example, one of the videos of performance art shows T.Enkhbold climbing into a wooden cage full of paper-mache rocks, fighting his way through, and emerging out the other side. This takes a great physical and emotional toll, but through such extraordinary actions he challenges the restrictions of traditional art while pushing himself to extremes.

The artist also invites viewers to participate in this exploring of identity by writing their responses in a notepad nailed to one installation, encouraging them to unearth and address their own feelings and thoughts.

Furthermore, T.Enkhbold draws ties between abandoning the restrictions and layers which we have built up, and returning to the life of nomads. His use of organic materials in his paintings “Animal dung”, “Rust”, and “Wax” not only departs from accepted notions of painting but also reflects on the role of nomadic life in shaping his identity; brought up in a nomad family, he is returning to his own roots.

T.Enkhbold’s work has brought him international renown with group and solo exhibitions in Finland, the Netherlands, the UK, China, and South Korea. He also represented Mongolia at the 56th Venice Art Biennale in 2015.

“Mining” is a continuation of his projects surrounding identity, limitations, and discovering your true self.

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