Nomadic Glow – Installation Documentation, Centro ADM Mexico City & Titanik Gallery Finland, 2015-7
Nomadic Glow is the name of a shade of domestic wall paint. This dusky pinkish-white paint, when compared with Mongolian nomadic naming system for horse’s coat colours, is called ‘Tsenhker’ in Mongolian.
Laura Cooper’s project Nomadic Glow, A Colour Poem for Hyesous’ Herd attempts to record—in a deliberately limited, schematic fashion—the elaborate naming system that nomadic herdsman use to identify each individual horse in their herd, which is based on their nuanced perception of horse coat colours. The result of this translation is a colour poem of sorts. When visiting the Mongolian Steppe, she brought with her a range of industrial paint colour chips and invited Hyesou—a local nomadic herdsman—to match the horses in his herd through this limited selection of paint colours. There are over 200 terms in Mongolian language specific to horses’ coat color; the language has fragmented and evolved so that each member of a large herd of horses can be identified primarily by colour and markings. This precision and the herders’ nuanced perception of colour are the result of the intimacy between man and animal and their bond within this specific landscape and way of life. The colour of any particular horse in Hyseou’s herd is differentially defined in relation to those of its cohort, and so the naming system has evolved to create ever more precise gradations of colour to distinguish each horse from its companions. To add to the complexity, the colours of this particular herd can also only be understood in relation to shifting perceptions of colour and light in Mongolia’s Orkhan Valley.
The installation is made up of video, sculpture, colour charts and text. The artist creates an intersection between two drastically different naming systems in her attempt to document and organize Hyseous’ herd into a colour chart.