Accepted paper:

"Uurga-shig", what is it like to be a lasso? Drawing figure-ground reversals between art and anthropology


Hermione Spriggs (UCL)

Paper short abstract:

How might a single object, a herdsman's lasso known as the 'uurga', facilitate a fresh understanding of cosmology and human-animal relationships in nomadic Mongolia? 'Uurga-shig' re-evaluates the performance of an interspecies object and the role of drawing as an anthropologically relevant method.

Paper long abstract:

'Uurga-shig' re-evaluates the performance of an object as a social participant and the role of drawing as an anthropologically relevant method, outlining the need for fresh approaches to interdisciplinary exchange between the fields of participatory art and anthropology. In light of Alfred Gell's thesis of 'traps as artworks and artworks as traps' (Journal of Material culture 1(1) 1996), the lasso presents an alternative point of view to the western zoological framing criticized by Massumi (What Animals Teach Us about Politics, 2014). Instead the uurga functions as a non-Euclidean drawing tool, a frame through which to better understand the fluid relationships underpinning human-animal codependency on the Mongolian steppe. From the line on a page to the 'drawing through' of a thread in a needle and the 'drawing in' of a wild horse in nomadic Mongolia, drawing is explored as an inherently mimetic and intimate method for analyzing moving relationships. With a focus on the drawn line as a connecting device that lends itself to figure-ground reversal, drawing practice becomes a lasso-like prosthetic technology, one that might be used to catalyze a perspectival shift into the worlds of other animals. (presentation includes two-channel video drawing by Hermione Spriggs + Rebecca Empson, 2015)

panel P116
Anthropological traps