« Mongolia had always been a dream to me: a dream of escape and freedom, with all the challenges and discoveries that it entails. While exploring the limits of my own resilience, I got a chance to uncover parts of the great mystique that make this country so exhilarating to any traveller.
From the rumpled swarming streets of Ulaanbaatar to the immensity of the steppes, I've experienced the warmth of the yurt during howling snowstorms, the tiring endurance required to ride a half tamed horse, the hypnotic drum beats of a shaman's trance, vodka fueled nights in youths, the stomach-churning smell and taste of mutton, the scarce forests at the edge of southern Siberia, the impenetrable language barrier, the sense of pride and powerful heritage nourished by the imperceptible and immemorial traces of the Mongol empire.
Under the over-bearing shadow of Genghis Khan and the vestiges of the communist era, I caught a glimpse of what Mongolia really is today. A land full of promises but also full of incoherences, that struggles to open to the modern world, while priding themselves on a long lost and brief past of conquer and domination that will most probably never gain any credible significance in today's globalized world. Technology and progress slowly make way into the Mongols' daily life, but somehow, the will to improve their comfort, or even showing signs of innovation are very seldom found. How to explain a multi-generational family's lifelong efforts to build and own a solid brick house but still living, eating and sleeping in a yurt set up in their garden. Most rural Mongols are now semi-nomadic people; their livelihood still comes mainly from the land and livestock. Means of communications and access to many commodities are still very limited, life for Mongols whether in cities or in the countryside is very much a constant struggle. They are warriors, built to resist the harshest of winters and the toughest obstacles. Their resignation has almost no equivalent in this world and their true strength resides in their age-old ability through hard work and camaraderie, to survive this harshness. And for that, they are admirable.
Mongolia is a land of contrast, sometimes in complete contradiction with our western way of thinking, where freedom seems within reach but at the cost of great many efforts to leave your beliefs behind. It is a land where possibility doesn't rhyme with simplicity, nothing is easy there, nothing ever goes the way you expected it to. It is a land of adventure and adversity where your own strength and limits are constantly being put to the test. In these circumstances, taking photos was as challenging as trying to understand the Mongolian ways. I endeavoured to capture the ardour and energy of this land and its people, and go beyond the clichés to show the Mongolia I had uncovered. »