MAA Installation, 2009
Composed of items collected by Rebecca Empson 2007, Mongolia
Mobile herders in Mongolia may be separated from family members throughout the year, but people remain attached to a particular house, even after death. Household chests are a political medium for displaying and maintaining different relations attached to a single household.
Ancestral portraits, photographic montages and pieces contained inside the chest extend the agency of people and assemble family and friends, so that people are not just where their bodies are but in many different places simultaneously.
The household chest is also a site where different concepts of the body meet. The body in Mongolia is not simply composed of parts or substances. It also contains forces such as luck, might, fortune, and spirit/soul that fluctuate in and out of balance according to a personís actions.
Many of the objects regulate and manage these forces, such as the fortune bag, religious icons, butter lamps and prayer wheels. The calendar tells of fortuitous days, according to astrology.
Female household members feed the display with daily offerings of milk libations and attend to and change its form. In so doing they tend to the people attached to a house.
Permission to reproduce the photographic montages and ancestral portraits displayed here have been sought from a household in Mongolia.