Art & Culture

Christopher Bollen

Year Zero
Reading time 2 minutes

In 1975, when the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia, they abolished the calendar and declared it "Year Zero." (Much of the ultra-violent regime, xenophobic ideology stemmed from French academic Marxism, and so, too, Year Zero had its roots in the notion of "Year One," dating from the French Revolution. The ploy was simple: control time, control the population. "New People" - teachers, academics, artists, doctors, lawyers, politicians, monks, any members of a minority group - have been systematically rounded up, and In this classless, agrarian utopia, the self did not exist, and, like death, it existed in a state outside of time. In the four years of the Khmer Rouge's genocidal reign, owning a clock or a calen- dar was punishable by death. After Pol Pot's ousting in 1979, clocks were readmitted to the public and private sphere.

These photographs are a compilation of all the clocks of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, in September 2019. Clocks are usually such everyday, it is a startling to think of them as lethal machines, as symbols of counterrevolutionary thought, as dangerous. I was born in Year Zero, which means none of these clocks are older than I am.

In 1975, when the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia, they abolished the calendar and declared it "Year Zero." (Much of the ultra-violent regime, xenophobic ideology stemmed from French academic Marxism, and so, too, Year Zero had its roots in the notion of "Year One," dating from the French Revolution. The ploy was simple: control time, control the population. "New People" - teachers, academics, artists, doctors, lawyers, politicians, monks, any members of a minority group - have been systematically rounded up, and In this classless, agrarian utopia, the self did not exist, and, like death, it existed in a state outside of time. In the four years of the Khmer Rouge's genocidal reign, owning a clock or a calen- dar was punishable by death. After Pol Pot's ousting in 1979, clocks were readmitted to the public and private sphere.

These photographs are a compilation of all the clocks of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, in September 2019. Clocks are usually such everyday, it is a startling to think of them as lethal machines, as symbols of counterrevolutionary thought, as dangerous. I was born in Year Zero, which means none of these clocks are older than I am.

All photos taken on September 6, 2019 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

/

related posts

Recommended posts for you