Sangam
2014
HD video | 11 min. | Color | Sound


Sangam documents a day at the Maha Kumbh Mela, near Allahabad in India, from the early morning hours before sunrise until late at night. It is almost impossible to determine the hour of the day: a heterotrophic place emerges that seems to be freed from the clear delineations of space and time. In this unconfined continuum, millions of bodies are absorbed by one big crowd and still individually find their meaning in moments of spiritual privacy.

During the night, the air is dominated by readings from the Ramayana, announcements made via loudspeakers and Hindi devotional disco music. A grid of street lights illuminate this temporary metropolis and make it impossible to ignore the thousands of billboards and camps adorned with Las Vegas-style light shows of attending gurus in the dark. Every night, a blanket of fog settles onto this tented city with its grid structure and clearly-signposted and constantly swept streets, fog that arises from the river and lends the entire scenery a unique character, inevitably calling to mind the aura of Blade Runner. People emerge from and soon afterward disappear again into the fog like ghosts on their way to the holiest of rivers. According to Hindu mythology, a drop of the divine nectar of immortality, amrita, fell to earth near Allahabad and manifests on the waters of the Ganges during certain planetary constellations. The pilgrims then take a bath of immortality and the Maha Kumbh Mela becomes a place of utopian reality. For the worshippers, this temporary tented city that provides accommodation for around 40 million people during this 50-day festival is only a stop-off point on their journey to the place beyond all places.