UURGA (irregular loop)
For the Land Art Mongolia Biennial 'Man and Animals' I co-habited with a Mongolian lasso called the "uurga" for a week. I attempted the impossible task of documenting its perspective from between the worlds of human and horse. This is an ongoing collaboration with Rebecca Empson and the Emerging Subjects of the New Economy research group at University College London.

"The LASSO is loosely appropriated here as a device that captures a moving object (in its analogue sense) or an irregular one (in its digital sense) – in our case, “the cultural condition" (Stuart Bailey)

UURGA is a project initially developed for the Land Art Mongolia 3rd Biennial Man and Animals, involving an intimate encounter with the uurga, a type of lasso particular to Mongolian pastoralists. The uurga is typically employed by a rider to catch a grazing animal (such as a horse to be used for riding) by flicking the loop over its head and bringing it to a halt. It also contributes to a complex symbology that reflects the wellbeing of a nomadic family and their life-supporting relationship with their herds.

As a playful investigation into both the formal and performative attributes of the lasso, UURGA conducts a novel form of reverse anthropology (after Roy Wagner): the participating viewer, following the artist, enters the perspective of the lasso which itself inhabits the pivot and overlap between the worlds of herder and horse in nomadic Mongolia.

The work teases and inverts the assumption of ‘permanence’ associated with Western land art, and reflects upon the artist's primary association with the lasso that is native to the Adobe Photoshop toolbar. Documents resulting from UURGA (irregular loop) are archived in a form which can expand to fill a gallery or contract to comply with a culture in which mobility equates to longevity. The online component of UURGA (irregular loop) allows the archive to circulate weightlessly: visit

video still, 'UURGA' cine eye sketch (2014)
project website
(right click for download link, with essays by Curator Vera Tollmann and Brian Holmes)
Rebecca Empson
Emerging Subjects of
the New Economy