Spirits and Ghosts: Journeys through Mongolia

Spirits and Ghosts: Journeys through Mongolia

by Julia Calfee
     
 
Spirits and Ghosts: Journeys through Mongolia delves into the transitions and changes in Mongolia since 1996, addressing the issues and problems of this country that is still steeped in the murkiness of the post-Communist era, and awkwardly adapting to a new democratic system. Calfee documented the role of shamanism and ritual in this mysterious land

Overview

Spirits and Ghosts: Journeys through Mongolia delves into the transitions and changes in Mongolia since 1996, addressing the issues and problems of this country that is still steeped in the murkiness of the post-Communist era, and awkwardly adapting to a new democratic system. Calfee documented the role of shamanism and ritual in this mysterious land, participating in the winter migration of a female shaman and her family over the mountains, sleeping on ice-covered fields at –40° C, and taking photographs of her private séances, rarely seen by anyone outside of this exclusive nomadic culture.

Calfee also spent years documenting the social ills of this little-understood East-Central Asian republic, spending days and nights in different prisons with adolescents, women, alcoholics, murderers, and many innocent people. Whether exploring the work camps that have not changed since Stalin’s time, makeshift strip-mining conditions, rampant alcoholism, or the general hopelessness of urban life in the capital, Calfee’s unflinching and haunting images leave a strong sense of correspondence between social problems and the dark spirituality of this troubled land.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Calfee's photographs document her personal travels through post-Communist Mongolia-a strange and misunderstood place. Over several years, she photographed a variety of subjects, including men and women in Mongolian prisons and the winter migration of a female shaman. These shadowy black-and-white photographs render a bleak look. The dramatic angles, blurred focus, and grainy, high-speed film add a sense of mystery to the photos, telling us more about Calfee's artistic style than about the Mongolian people themselves. More helpful are the thumbnails and brief descriptions at the end of the book, but these sketchy contexts don't go far enough to connect the viewer to what is happening in the images. Personal commentary by Calfee herself would have made the difference. The chief problem, however, is the book's design and layout; most of the images are full spreads, causing the gutter to run through the center of nearly all the images. This poor design divides the images in half, making many of them unreadable. Calfee's mentor, photojournalist Antonin Kratochvil, contributes a brief introduction. Comprehensive art photo collections might consider purchase, but otherwise not recommended.-Shauna Frischkorn, Millersville Univ., PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781576871676
Publisher:
powerHouse Books
Publication date:
07/05/2003
Pages:
165
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.60(h) x 0.90(d)

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