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Photographer Calls Attention to the Desertification of the Mongolian Countryside

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Nomadic life has been central to traditional Mongolian culture throughout history. To this day, 35% of Mongolians depend on the vast open land to live. What happens when environmental changes, like desertification, threaten their only means of survival? Korean photographer Daesung Lee took notice of issues facing this culture and sought out to make a bold statement. For his series Futuristic Archeology, he turns the Mongolian landscape and its nomadic people into a living museum diorama. He hopes to call attention to the possible fate of these people who’s lives are threatened by the changing climate.

According to a survey done by the Mongolian government, 850 lakes and 2,000 rivers have already dried up. This loss of water has led to the desertification of 25% of the vast countryside. There is a threat that 75% of the land will turn into desert.

For the past two years Lee has travelled to Mongolia numerous times to photograph these traditional nomads in their natural environment. By printing large scale billboards and placing them in conjunction with the landscapes horizon, we look on as the Mongolian people go about their daily lives.

Lee hopes to convey a message that the lives of these nomadic people lay in a fine line between their disappearing reality and the artificial space of a museum. Perhaps if things don’t change soon, the Mongolian nomad might only exist behind the velvet rope of an exhibition.

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All images © Daesung Lee

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