Photo Essay: Ulan Bator Ger Community Photo Studio, by Laura Liverani

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Ulan Bator Ger Community Photo Studio

Ger districts are shantytowns surrounding Ulaanbaatar. More than half of Mongolia`s capital residents, i.e a quarter of the whole population in the country, live in ger areas. An increasing number of Mongolians are abandoning their nomadic lifestyle in the countryside to live in the city. Most migrants have settled in gers- the traditional portable homes of nomadic families- in the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, shaping a unique rural/ urban hybrid environment.

The main objective of this photo essay is to meet the people behind the statistics, and to document the everyday stories of the women, men and children who live, work, study, play, love and hope in the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar.

With the support of NGO Mongolian Youth Services Center and the help of local teens, we set up a basic temporary photo studio in Chingeltei ger area: a portable studio light, fabric backgrounds bought at the market, a camera.

People from the community were invited to sit for a family-album style portrait while sharing their thoughts about life in the Mongolian growing shantytown. The work approach was thoroughly participatory: the youths were in charge of bringing people in the studio to have their portrait taken. These were mainly passersby, sometimes friends and schoolmates.

Aiming at encompassing a collective self portrait of a whole community, we photographed and interviewed almost one hundred people.

Photographs & Text: Laura Liverani
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