គ្មានសង្ឃឹម (Khmean sangkhum) - Broken Hope: search for freedom and peace. Contemporary utopia and dystopia in metamodernist photography.
In his project “Broken Hope” Pirogov documents his life in Cambodia. Simple, obvious at the first glance photographs tell a viewer about personal inner search. This search is being realized at three layers at the same time. First one is a daily routine, mode of life, documentary layer. Second one – the process of assimilation, implantation of an emigrant to the new culture through inner work. And third one – utopian thirst for freedom in a world that wanted to become global not so long ago, but changed its mind under oppression of the old world, chose a comfort zone of ‘waiting’, got stuck between the past and the future in present. This present though is not without some sort of a future, but the variety of this future is shortening under outer pressure of contemporary world ideologies. The ideologies are mutating and slowly losing knowledge about the past and are exist in a state of some sort of “forgetting”. Limbo where the prayer of an author about overcome of the stagnation of philosophical, ideological and religious systems takes place is global, total, and universal. In this case Cambodia is an integral part of a modern world. The world is developing in a regime of supervision of society and the government. Freedom as inner as well as outer according to masses is being considered as a crime. In his work Pirogov searches for an exit from the dead end of spiritual and discursive traps of the modern digitalized, described world that is controlled by the governmental apparatus and actors that went for a deal with time where these apparatus realizing their programs of maintaining of an old order.
The development of a project and search for an exist from this situation are taking place in a space of an inner world of an author found in outer world – through the interaction with people and essences that are kept alive by the ancient Khmer culture, as well as in interaction with nature that calls through the idea of an Earth as a Temple to refer to the “Soul of the World”. Author encourages a viewer to become a witness of this search through the work that documents his interaction with people, nature, Khmer worldview and culture. The author is being driven by the spirit of unknown, “The Other”, some otherworldly essence that is present in Cambodia. A presence of the “Other”, “an alien from afar” that is kept by the Khmer culture and that is depicted in Khmer architecture and religion unfolds as standing to territory of mystery that keeps hope for release, redemption, overcome of the stagnation of modern societies and cultures, their ideologies and philosophies through the attempt to hear those who are near. It is shown through the beliefs of people, their daily routine and worldview. This is also presented through the attitude based on mutual assistance. Pirogov uses metaphorical language that speaks about improving the life of one’s neighbor through the special spiritual interaction, driven by some essence or a “Spirit”. This interaction does not depend on gender, race, nationality, age, religion, social status, etc. and is built on a feeling of a community, un-irrelevance and participation in the mystery, driven by the invisible. Furthermore, this hope essentially is a trial as it always is slipping away and leaves an author and his heroes face to face with doubts and apparent impossibility to change the reality.
An “Island”, a “Shore” to which his heroes are approaching essentially is a bay of dreaming where the global freedom is possible and premonition for harmony is presented. These feelings aren’t illusion but are more likely a dream or a wish of a Khmer people that is transferred from the long-suffered ancient culture to the habitants of the country and foreigners. Intuitive approach to the material and to the process of shooting unfolds a new perception that is median in classical dichotomy “analysis – contemplation” and that is gained through the shamanistic approach to reality. This approach though isn’t a game nor esotericism, it’s a real feeling taken from the culture and that is based on local reality and religion. There is some sort of a mystery which shows up through the interaction with reality. Cambodia is called a country of instant Karma and here exists a special, beyond, unknown or forgotten knowledge that uncovers a possibility of a new religion or an idea that is able to unite Khmer people and the whole world through the spiritual change. This knowledge is probably about possibility of another form of a communication. It gets a form of some sort of a “dance” with photography in the project. The author is being driven (inside the local culture and in life of his heroes”) and lead at the same time (as an author who documents this essence and reality where it acts).
Author follows the unknown, a “Spirit” and occurs in situations that he documents, following special relations with light as a ruling essence that he uses as an anchor and key to the work and in the understanding of the spiritual information. Furthermore, author isn’t sure in constantly chosen way not only because of his western, logical mindset, but also because he always encounters “Broken Hope”, a special phenomenon that exists in Khmer culture. This phenomenon essentially is a very negative, dark state where the light seems to fade, where everything is hopeless and only “the Other” – other person or an essence, “A Spirit” can come and save from it. It is depicted on Angkor temples. Broken hope occurs in life of people to cleanse the situation and face people with their true selves. Sometimes others do not wish to go the direction the author goes. The process of a shooting in this case becomes a flailing or a prayer, a song of a warrior of a spirit similar to rituals of Native Americans. Author interacts as with inner layer of reality, full of magic and mystery, as well as with outer layer, front side, with daily routine, common world as we know it.
If the essences are living through embodiment in materiality, and if we contemplate ourselves and the outer world to understand the “essence”, the experience of upcoming to the “Unified”, “the Origin” can be cognized through the constant rebirth – as mundane, as well as spiritual through the full presence “now and here” accepting all living beings. This brings us to the idea of an Earth as a World Temple, inhabitant by all living creatures at all times at the same time – as past, as well as future; and consequently brings us to the wish of a global renewal and change in present and to the fight for riddance from fake, alluvial and untrue, dead, conditional world that separates us and brings misunderstanding between people and nations. Thus, Pirogov’s work tells about desire for equality, abundance, true love to the humanity and the world and that could be implemented in all realities and worlds at the same time, starting from the attitude to one’s neighbor in our common reality. Uncovering the experience of infinity, eternity, hope for change and deliverance from suffering, គ្មានសង្ឃឹម (Khmean sangkhum ), Broken Hope gives possibility of a new world or saves this possibility from total disappearance.