Drawing So As to Draw—On the Drawings in the Oeuvre of Bayartsetseg Dashdondov
In her artistic work, Bayartsetseg Dashdondov focuses on drawing the leaf of the bodhi tree, which is regarded as sacred in many regions of Asia; legend has it that the Buddha experienced the moment of “enlightenment” at the base of this tree.
Bayartsetseg Dashdondov draws its leaves over and over again, year after year, day after day. They grow out of fine parallel lines, one alongside the other without touching, precise and at the same time vibrant—ever-new variations. There are very close spaces in between where the lines almost touch, and areas in which the spaces widen, shifts, and accents in color and material. A golden thread hides away now and again—in a single line. Openings, ruptures, and folds develop. Some drawings diverge from the leaf motif. Lines circle a round, empty space, at once leaving it blank and producing it. Others create objects that float, want to dissolve, and can be held. At the same time, the drawings are meditations on the line. Their formation process and effect apparently fall into one. They speak of tranquility and concentration in the sense of the Zen Buddhist state of mind. In a symbolic sense, the line also stands for the lifeline or thread of life as we are familiar with from Greek mythology.
The drawings are the heart and point of departure of the series мод / TREE, whose fifth edition was presented as part of the KUBUS FREISPIEL exhibition ROOMS TO LET—Chapter Five/Ceiling: Andrea von Lüdinghausen, Mareike Poehling, Bayartsetseg Dashdondov.
Further elements are added to the drawings in each of the exhibitions in the series TREE I–V: a LAB in which visitors can become active themselves in that they, for example, are provided with a herbarium with leaves from the bodhi tree such as in TREE I, or can draw a calligraphy as in TREE V. Further elements are performative works and their documentation on film. One part of the installation in Hannover is the documentation of a performance on a field of stones near Ulan Bator, a contemplative work on the sound of stone and wood that simultaneously transfers a faraway place into the exhibition space. Each of the TREE exhibitions furthermore includes objets trouvés that stem from the city in which the exhibition takes place. In this case, a thick book from Hannover whose opened cover fans out the pages in such a way that its sculptural character is revealed, as well as a cushion that invites one to sit down and meditate.
A performance likewise took place in conjunction with the exhibition in Hannover: the reading of the text “Ceiling” by Samuel Beckett, a short piece of prose that he wrote for a friend, the artist Avigdor Arikha. On facebook a reference is made to a talk that deals with the phonetic proximity of the word “white” in the recurring line “On coming to the first sight is of white,” with the phonetic “breath,” and with phonetic breathing. Here, breath can be regarded as a symbol for life and death in the sense of an existentialist attitude à la Beckett, and he furthermore strikes an arc to the Asian view of breath as the basis of all existence.
The motif of breathing is linked with that of speaking in the performative reading of “Ceiling” in the exhibition мод / TREE V, namely in different languages: Mareike Poehling, Andrea von Lüdinghausen, and Bayartsetseg Dashdondov read the Beckett text simultaneously in German, English, and Mongolian. The performance provides the experience of Babylonian confusion and is at the same time an exploration of rhythm and phonetics. In the best tradition of Beckett, the performance also addresses mistrust and doubt in language as well as the meshing of cultures.
The meshing of cultures and artistic approaches and works also plays a key role in the multipart project ROOM TO LET by Mareike Poehling and Andrea von Lüdinghausen. At the same time, working in collaboration is essential. Chapter Five/Ceiling is based on a previous cooperation with Bayartsetseg Dashdondov in Ulan Bator.
Mareike Poehling and Andrea von Lüdinghausen use transitory spaces such as hotels and guesthouses worldwide for their productions and exhibitions. They change existing things in the rooms and include materials from their archive as well as objects they found in the respective city. Thus, in their collective authorship sculptural room scenarios develop that deal with the instability of reality and with doubt of its reliability. In Hannover, ROOMS TO LET took place at the Hotel Schwarzer Bär.
The collaboration between Bayartsetseg Dashdondov, Mareike Poehling, and Andrea von Lüdinghausen brings their artistic works into actual contact with one another. For the exhibition TREE V by Bayartsetseg Dashdondov, which takes place at the AD/AD Project Space opposite the hotel, Mareike Poehling contributed the work THE TRIP, which tells of traveling and transferring objects in a way that is as incidental as it is complex. Andrea von Lüdinghausen incorporates the work DIVIDE, an opened pair of rusty scissors in a jar that coalesces with the lines of the drawings by Bayartsetseg Dashdondov in way that is difficult to comprehend yet compelling.
In turn, Bayartsetseg Dashdondov left a large sheet of folded paper in the hotel room of ROOMS TO LET that rests there like a fresh bedsheet. Those who unfold it and have a command of Mongolian reads about “inviting sewing room windows” and “blind houses”, about “sleeping hallucinations.” The text deals with speaking about objects, with feelings, with absence, and with emptiness. Without any knowledge of Mongolian, the work says something about being cryptic, about reading without understanding, about writing without a goal. And it deals with the departure from what seems to be coercive goal orientation, with trusting in what one does for its own sake. The work stands for writing poetry so as to write poetry, like the performance of “Ceiling” stands for speaking so as to speak—and the drawings by Bayartsetseg Dashdondov for drawing so as to draw—which opens up an entire world. Which with uniform fine lines deals with more and less, with presence and absence, with invariance and change.