Beijing : Hamid Sardar - Beyond the great wind
In ancient times, a terrible wind blew across the vast steppe connecting Europe to the Far East. The Greek poets called it the Boreal, and believed it lived in a cave somewhere in the Altai Mountains. Beyond the great wind - in the country of Hyperborea - there was to be found a perfect land where the sun always shines; a place known for its priests and healers like Abaris; who lived in a place where according to the poet Pindar, “…neither disease nor bitter old age is mixed,” and where the Hyerborean race live, “in their sacred blood; far from labor and battle...” (Pindar, Tenth Pythian Ode).
The nomadic communities that survive in places like Mongolia today are the descendants of the legendary Hyperboreans; the enlightened race that lived beyond the great wind. Mongol nomads still preserve a vision of life which we in Western imagination still associate with the Golden Race. Perpetual movement on the open range and the proximity to animals, both domestic and in the wild, seems to impart on their kind a certain immunity from degeneration - a certain spiritual wisdom, which may appear incompatible, even abhorrent to the values of sedentary civilization, and which today remains a heroic anachronism, alien to our notions of time and history.
In these ethnographic dreamscapes inhabited by reindeer, bear, horses, eagles and wolves, humans no longer occupy the center of the image. They are just one element floating across the scene. In fact, without the animal companion life would not be possible and man would appear lost. The ecological mysticism binding animal and man is the essence of hidden Mongolia; it is a place that is bound up with talking beasts and the voices of ancestors, a place that awakens a sense of healing and well-being, yet something utterly contrary to the laws of civilized men. These iconic compositions harken to an earlier phase of human consciousness, to a time where spirit-animals escorted man across both physical and metaphysical barriers into other worlds.
The Luxembourg Embassy Residence is an elegant and historic house, originally built for the head of the Anglican China Mission at the end of Qing dynasty. Serindia Gallery is deeply grateful to the Embassy of Luxembourg, Beijing, for the unique opportunity to show Hamid Sardar-Afkhami’s works in a most unique venue.
Hamid Sardar-Afkhami is a photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker. He graduated with a PhD in Tibetan studies from Harvard University specializing in Mongolia, and currently lives in Paris, France, and Ulanbataar, Mongolia.
Beyond the great wind: journeys to hidden Mongolia
from 26 May to 9 June 2012
Luxembourg Ambassador Residence, Beijing, China