Vibha Galhotra’s project Who owns the Earth? examines issues of climate change through the lens of Mongolia’s topography. The dry grassland and desert terrain, especially vulnerable to climate change, becomes Galhotra’s canvas for this evocative land-work.
Mongolia, known as the Land of the Eternal Blue Sky, with its unique geographical and climatic situations, has had prevalent nomadic lifestyles based on traditional knowledge systems and weather forecasting techniques. However, the use of traditional intuitive methods of pastoral animal husbandry and rain-fed agriculture have been disrupted by the degrading quality of the earth’s environment.
The disturbance has been intensified by the growing disparity between urban and rural populations, between the rich and the poor, supplemented by gender inequality and ecological hazards like mining and pollution. The impact on Mongolia’s fragile ecosystems can be visibly seen as desertification, decreased water supply and natural disasters.
Invited to the Land Art Mongolia Biennale, Galhotra responded to the swift transition of the nomadic and pristine land, traditionally dependent on animal husbandry, to a democratic free-market. With this unprecedented drive of modernization, the question that stirred the common people was the governance and ownership of the pasture-land. In this spatial and temporal context, Galhotra’s text-based work using found and perishable organic materials, highlights one of the most the crucial question of our times: ‘Who owns the Earth?’