From 1998 to 2003 I traveled on horseback, by foot and by jeep more than 2.000 miles (around 3.200 kilometers) through Mongolia in all weather conditions. The foundation of the day to day life in Mongolia is the belief that spirits live everywhere: in each blade of grass, in all the rivers, lakes, small streams, and even raindrops. This belief is as old as the most ancient mountains. Ghosts are found in many ways, for example in herds of animals dying of cold, frozen into the earth and in the hearts of prisoners locked up forever and forgotten in a country with no legal system.
Spirits and Ghosts
powerHouse Books, 2003
Photographs by Julia Calfee
76 large format photos 12”x 9”
These photographs were taken over a four year period , many months of these years were spent in different and difficult conditions. This analog photography using only high speed black and white film, produces deliberately blurry and gritty photos that do not describe actual situations but evoke the emotional side of life such as a woman shaman singing and beating her drum to the sounds of spirit voices that only she can hear or the desperation of the prisoners who appear almost like living ghosts, crouched down on the pitiless freezing stones of Siberia for the daily count or even the thrill of a young herdsman practicing for his first horse race by galloping in a swirl of dust next to a four wheel jeep. They are a testimony of the extreme conditions in this place.
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