A 13-year-old eagle huntress in Mongolia
By William Kremer
BBC World Service
A photographer who snapped what could be the world's only girl hunting with a golden eagle says watching her work was an amazing sight.
Most children, Asher Svidensky says, are a little intimidated by golden eagles. Kazakh boys in western Mongolia start learning how to use the huge birds to hunt for foxes and hares at the age of 13, when the eagles sit heavily on their undeveloped arms. Svidensky, a photographer and travel writer, shot five boys learning the skill as well as the girl, Ashol-Pan. "To see her with the eagle was amazing," he recalls. "She was a lot more comfortable with it, a lot more powerful with it and a lot more at ease with it."
The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are the only people that hunt with golden eagles, and today there are around 400 practising falconers. Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country's only apprentice huntress.
They hunt in winter, when the temperatures can drop to -40C (-40F). A hunt begins with days of trekking on horseback through snow to a mountain or ridge giving an excellent view of prey for miles around. Hunters generally work in teams. After a fox is spotted, riders charge towards it to flush it into the open, and an eagle is released. If the eagle fails to make a kill, another is released.
The skill of hunting with eagles, Svidensky says, lies in harnessing an unpredictable force of nature. "You don't really control the eagle. You can try and make her hunt an animal - and then it's a matter of nature. What will the eagle do? Will she make it? How will you get her back afterwards?"
The eagles are not bred in captivity, but taken from nests at a young age. Female eaglets are chosen since they grow to a larger size - a large adult might be as heavy as seven kilos, with a wingspan of over 230cm. After years of service, on a spring morning, a hunter releases his mature eagle a final time, leaving a butchered sheep on the mountain as a farewell present. "That's how the Kazakh eagle hunters make sure that the eagles go back to nature and have their own strong newborns, for the sake of future generations," Svidensky says.
Svidensky describes Ashol-Pan as a smiling, sweet and shy girl. His photographs of her engaging in what has been a male activity for around 2,000 years say something about Mongolia in the 21st Century.
"The generation that will decide what will happen with every tradition that Mongolia contains is this generation," says Svidensky, who showed Ashol-Pan's family the photographs on his laptop. "Everything there is going to change and is going to be redefined - and the possibilities are amazing."
Ashol-Pan's family is shown the photos by Asher Svidensky
Correction, 17/04/14: This story has been amended to make clear that three of the photographs depict male eagle hunter Bahak Birgen and apprentice eagle hunter Irka Bolen.
Asher Svidensky spoke to World Update on the BBC World Service. Follow @BBCNewsMagazine on Twitter and on Facebook
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Tectonics Festival New York
FRI, MAY 23, 2014 TO SUN, MAY 25, 2014
The inaugural US iteration of Iceland’s acclaimed Tectonics Festival comes to New York in four events at ISSUE Project Room May 23rd through May 25th. A co-presentation of Tectonics and ISSUE, Tectonics Festival New York presents a rich program of new composition, improvisation and unique cross-genre collaborations exploring iconic voices in experimental composition. Founded in Reykjavík in 2012 by Ilan Volkov, Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, Tectonics Festival takes the quest for a radical classical music as its starting point.
The series opens on Friday May 23rd at 8pm with a special presentation of Alvin Lucier’s Criss Cross, featuring two pillars of experimental rock: Stephen O’Malley, a doom-metal legend of Sunn O)))) fame, and the celebrated guitarist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi. Originally premiered at Tectonics Glasgow in May 2013 and recently staged at Louisville’s Big Ears Festival, this is the duo’s first NY appearance. Jessika Kenney, a composer and vocalist who draws on South East Asian and Persian vocal traditions— as well as participating in experimental and metal groups including Sunn 0)))— performs solo and also joins Hildur Guðnadóttir, O’Malley and Ambarchi in the World Premiere of a newly commissioned work for ensemble by Eyvind Kang. Kenney also performs two works by Italian avant-gardist Giacinto Scelsi, one in a duo with Kang on viola. An ensemble of O’Malley, Ambarchi, Eli Keszler & Alan Zimmerman perform South Pole by Iancu Dumitrescu, a pioneering Romanian composer still not known enough. Canadian sound artist Crys Cole performs solo, drawing subtle and imperfect sounds from simple, meditative gestures.
The second day of the festival turns attention to Harley Gaber, a complex American composer, filmmaker, artist, and tennis player. Saturday May 24th at 8pm, Gaber’s monumental work The Winds Rise in the North is performed by a quintet including extraordinary string players Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim, Esther Noh, Alex Waterman and Erin Wight. A pillar of American minimalism, the near-100 minute work is scored in four sections with amplified instruments largely performed sul ponticello (on or near the bridge of the instruments), yielding rich harmonic combinations and overtones. Prior to this performance, Saturday May 24th at 4pm, a panel on the artist’s life and works is moderated by composer Eric Richards, with guests Paul Paccione, Ned Sublette and Bill Hellerman.
Sunday May 25th at 8pm, a diverse program highlights works by Eric Richards, a little-known but tremendously influential American avant-garde composer who came of age in the pervasively interdisciplinary counterculture of the 1960s. Two of Richard’s works are performed by percussionist Alan Zimmerman. Alvin Lucier returns for this final event of the festival, performing two works with pianist Jenny Lin. Baritone Jeffrey Gavettt, a premiere vocalist of contemporary music, performs works by Lucier, Scelsi and two experimentalists of a younger generation— Aaron Cassidy and Evan Johnson. The festival closes with a solo set by Hildur Ingveldardóttir Guðnadóttir, an acclaimed Icelandic cellist at the forefront of experimental rock, best known for her collaborations with múm and Pan Sonic. With cello, voice and software manipulation, Guðnadóttir draws a broad spectrum of sounds from her instrument, ranging from intimate simplicity to huge soundscapes.
The New York edition of Tectonics Festival at ISSUE Project Room follows 2014 editions of the festival around the world— in Reykjavik with Iceland Symphony, Glasgow with BBC Scottish Symphony, Adelaide with Adelaide Symphony, and a final series in October 2014 in Tel-Aviv with the Israeli Contemporary Players.
All programs take place at ISSUE Project Room, 22 Boerum Place in Downtown Brooklyn.
Tickets on sale to the general public Friday, April 18th.
Full Festival Program
FRIDAY, MAY 23RD - 8PM - $20 / $15 MEMBERS + STUDENTS
Eyvind Kang: New Commission for ensemble
Performed by Oren Ambarchi, Jessika Kenney, Hildur Guðnadóttir & Stephen O’Malley
Iancu Dumitrescu: South Pole
Performed by Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley, Eli Keszler & Alan Zimmerman
Alvin Lucier: Criss-Cross
Performed by Oren Ambarchi & Stephen O’Malley
Crys Cole: Solo performance
Jessika Kenney: Solo Performance
Giacinto Scelsi: Ho, for solo female voice
Giacinto Scelsi: Manto, for viola and voice
Performed by Evyand Kang & Jessika Kenney
SATURDAY, MAY 24TH - 4PM - FREE
Panel Discussion: The work of Harley Gaber
With Paul Paccione, Ned Sublette and Bill Hellerman; moderated by Eric Richards.
SATURDAY MAY 24TH - 8PM - $15 / $12 MEMBERS + STUDENTS
Harley Gaber: The Winds Rise in the North
Performed by Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim, Esther Noh, Alex Waterman & Erin Wight.
SUNDAY MAY 25TH - 8PM - $15 / $12 MEMBERS + STUDENTS
Eric Richards: Times Racing (with tape)
Eric Richards: Finalbells
Performed by Alan Zimmerman.
Alvin Lucier: Music for Piano & Magnetic Strings
Alvin Lucier: Nothing Is Real
Performed by Jenny Lin & Alvin Lucier.
Aaron Cassidy: I, Purples, Spat Blood, Laugh of Beautiful Lips
Evan Johnson: A General Interrupter to Ongoing Activity
Giacinto Scelsi: Three Latin Prayers
Alvin Lucier: Music for Baritone and Slow Sweep Pure Wave Oscillators
Performed by Jeffrey Gavett, Baritone.
Hildur Guðnadóttir: Solo Performance
Ilan Volkov, curator of Tectonics music festival, made his debut with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in 2003 and took on the post of Music Director and Chief Conductor in September 2011. He began his career as Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, and was Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from 2003-2009. Volkov is very active in the new music scene and has premiered many contemporary orchestral works, including compositions by Jonathan Harvey, Hans Abrahamsen, Unsuk Chin and others. Volkov is a frequent guest conductor with international orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra and City of Birmingham Orchestra, as well as playing violin in improv groups Mines and Lovers Ritual.
Tectonics Festival New York is made possible in part through support from a New Music USA Project Grant.
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Namio Harukawa, born in 1947, (in Osaka Prefecture, Japan) is a Japanese artist known for his realistic femdom erotica drawings. Harukawa’s drawings feature voluptuous women with large breasts, wide hips, round buttocks and thick legs dominating, overpowering and humiliating smaller men.
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