By Apolline Beucher
Namuun Batbileg is currently presenting her first photo exhibition on Brazil at the Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum, until the August 21.
The young artist is a professional painter who traveled in Brazil for seven months, exploring the different regions of this exceptionally diverse country from every angle. Her goal was to reflect the numerous cultures and influences that merge in the country hosting the Olympics this year, linking what she documented to the multicultural aspect of the Games.
“I want the visitors to join and visit Brazil with me,” she says. The reason why she named the exhibit “Oir-Rio”, is that “oir” means “close” in Mongolian. “This is a present for Mongolian people,” she adds.
On the first wall, dedicated to the indigenous population of the Amazon region, visitors can observe two boys playing football in the jungle. Symbolizing the universal dimension of sports, it reminds us how people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions gather every four years to watch an event with rules that are universally comprehended and accepted.
Passing in front of a picture of an indigenous woman smiling, Namuun tells me, “People are very similar to us, they smile with their eyes; there are no fake smiles,” and the language barrier doesn’t keep that message from being understood.
The second wall captures Brazil’s magnificent natural environment. “The people love, the plants love, the animals love here,” Namuun says. And most importantly, the artist observed how the locals respect and worship these resources, this variety. All the colors that stand out in the photographs speak for the multi-ethnicity on which the Brazilian mindset is founded.
Then comes Brasilia, the capital city, particularly modern and the total opposite of the rainforest. Once more, the visitor is reminded of how heterogeneous the country is. However, all of these differences are part of a whole, and it is everyone’s responsibility to preserve them. Namuun says the people from the city protect the countryside people because, “they are their nature, they are their roots.”
The last part of the exhibit is focused on Rio de Janeiro, where “love and romance is in the air”. Brazilians cultivate their differences, as seen in the exhibition’s photos of mixed couples. In one image, two young boys – one black and one light-skinned, are posing next to each other. Namuun gave one of the boys a cashmere scarf to wear, “that way, we are represented too. We all live together.” The spirit of unity that transcends the frame takes us back to the core values of the Olympics. Reflecting on her visit to one Brazil’s most famous beaches, “On Copacabana, you can just come as you are,” noting that the mix of people is what makes Brazil so beautiful.
Namuun Batbileg did not want to include sports pictures in her exhibition, she aspired to show the spirit of sport through art. “Brazilians say, ‘I give my friends everything, I give my rival law’”, she explains, “this is the Olympism I desire to display.” Her idea of “Olympism Art” is supported by the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, who welcomes visitors to Oir-Rio-2016.