Interview of the Mogolian graffiti artist Heesco from Ulan Bator. Let's discover the scene from Mongolia its history through the words of Heesco.
Interview by Tanya Wilson and Peishan for FatCap Team.
The Tiger Translate Arts & Music Festival returned to Mongolia for the third time to develop and highlight the burgeoning contemporary arts scene. Artists from Philippines and Australia joined forces with Mongolia’s best emerging artists to explore the thriving streets of Ulan Bator. Tiger Translate celebrates Mongolia’s progression towards an artistically free and open culture. For upcoming events check out the official site
Here's an interview with one of Mongolia’s leading street artists: Heesco. After the jumps, some pictures of his work and pictures of Mogolian Street art.
FatCap : Can you tell me more about the street arts scene in Mongolia? Who are the prominent artists/crews?
Heesco : There's been a small graffiti scene in Ulaanbaatar (UB) since late 1990s. It came with the US hip-hop and gangsta rap culture, when kids started forming their own rap groups. ANZ painted the first graf pieces around 1997 for local hip-hop crews Dain ba Enkh (War and Peace) and 2 Khuu (2 Boys). Since then a few crews emerged in UB, like ASCrew (ROAAD Crew later), REDEGGS Crew, S-UNITED, SAS. Local guys paint mostly American and European style graf pieces, and only recently there been some work that has some definitive Mongolian styling and letters. Street art is in its early days in Mоngolia. Thanks to the internet the kids nowadays know all about the international street art scene, and I've seen people put up more stencils and arty character based works on the streets.
FC : What are the challenges that street artists face in Mongolia?
H : Well, you can't really get decent paint. The cheap brands are toxic as hell, run heaps, and you can't get much coverage out of those. And general public don't really distinguish between art and vandalism, everything is pretty much seen as vandalism, really. And the art scene don't really support street art either, seeing it as lower, "not real" art. Top it off with extreme weather, and rough-you-up-for-nothing cops, and you might get a picture.
FC : Where are the places that you can find good graffiti work in UB?
H : There's a good stretch of painted pieces along Narny Zam highway. And opposite Mars shopping centre in the city. Other spots, you need to know people to find, probably, cos it's hard to describe as we don't use proper street names…everyone describes a location by surrounding landmarks.
FC : You were born and raised in UB but moved to Australia at age 20. How much of your upbringing influences your work? Also, how do you keep in touch with what's going on with street art back in UB?
H : UB is a pretty crazy place. It will always influence my work. Mongolian culture in general is pretty unique, and I try and make sure I include some of it in my work. As for keeping up with what's going in UB, my friends make sure I do :)
FC : Which are the street artists from around the world that have inspired you?
H : Too many artists to mention, really. I guess it's mainly artists that paint freehand. Guys like Roa, Aryz, Ekundayo, El Mac, David Choe etc.
FC : Can you tell us more about the street art piece that you will be doing in Ulan Bator?
H : I got asked to paint a wall to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Mongolia. Because it's government related stuff, the subject matter had to be agreed on by both sides and it had to be pretty PC etc etc. I changed my sketch a few times and we settled on a Mongolian traditional horse-fiddle player, and an aboriginal wise-man elder having a "jam", so to say, in harmony. Both characters were based on actual people. The Mongolian guy, Tserendorj, is the State Khan Khuurch, or the official horse-fiddle player of Mongolia. I met up with him in person to ask for permission to use his image - awesome guy - and the Australian Indigenous elder was based on Major Sunmer, Cultural and Spiritual Advisor within the Ngarrindjeri Nation. The guys at the embassy got in touch with him in person to get his permission. The mural will have an official 'Opening' on the 12th of September, when the Australian Ambassador himself will open it... pretty full on stuff. I did manage to squeeze in a few jam sessions with the local boys the REDEGGS crew, and the ROAAD crew in between.
Mogolian Street art Pictures :