About Wolf Within
In October of 2012, New York artists FAILE unveiled their sculpture Wolf Within at the site of the National Garden Park in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The figure, a man cloaked in a wolf pelt, tearing away the remnants of a two-piece suit in revelation—is a familiar one for those acquainted with FAILE’s work.
Wolf Within was conceived on the brink of the 2008 financial crisis as a series of paintings that fused a decadent capitalist landscape with a lost but resurgent past. Images of native warriors set amidst gleaming skyscrapers opened the question of what we lose and gain in our pursuit of ever-greater wealth and figured the dangers of our entrenched political and economic systems.
The meaning of the work
For Western audiences, Wolf Within was a vivid illustration that the bull market couldn’t last forever, and a world out of balance can only sustain itself for so long. Realized in 2012, in three dimensions, Wolf Within is a timely work for a Mongolian context.
The figure’s suit invokes the influx of investors from around the world, and the wolf is, as ever, a potent symbol, a depiction of nature’s ferocious power and a reminder that our environment and traditions cannot be forgotten.
(..) once we had landed on the idea for it, it all made so much sense looking at what’s happening in Mongolia. It’s one of the world’s fastest growing economies so they’re basically facing all these issues of modernization and materialism and capitalism. They’re gonna be in either a really great place or a really negative place coming out of this. The symbolism of the sculpture really seemed to make sense.
National Garden Park (Үндэсний цэцэрлэгт хүрээлэн), Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Tel: +976 9910 5995
Official site: www.ubpark.mn
The local sculptor and craftsman Batmunkh was invited to realize a concept created by FAILE and added his personal interpretation to their sculpture. Wolf Within embodies the similarity of the challenges faced by fast-modernizing places worldwide. It also calls to mind the incredible changes Mongolia now faces as a mineral-rich and quickly urbanizing country.
After all, Ulaanbaatar’s fortunes, Mongolia’s capital, have increased as steadily as the mining of gold, copper, and uranium from sites like Oyu Tolgoi, shaking up a historically pastoral society. Of course, the consequences of this change are unknown, but Wolf Within is a reminder of nature’s strength and its ambivalent dance with big money.