© Rodrigo Abd, 2004, from the Palimpsest serie / Guatemala

Rodrigo Abd has documented the exhumations of massacre victims who had been slaughtered by the government during the war, and their reburial by family members decades later in traditional Maya ceremonies. It is at once a story of traumatic loss and of justice won. Here, as everywhere, Mr. Abd sees past and present imprinted on one another.

In a series called “Palimpsestos,” Mr. Abd explored that concept more literally. After he accidentally double-exposed some film in Haiti and liked the results, he spent three years in Guatemala deliberately re-exposing every frame of panoramic film that he shot with his Hasselblad XPan.

“For me, it was really easy and clear to interconnect the past and the present, and to interconnect the relationship between the powers of Guatemala and the suffering,” he said. “So basically, the idea was to try to find out if finally those things that, for me, were interconnected could be seen in a frame.”
His method was simple: shoot a roll, throw it — unlabeled — into a bag of 20 or 30 rolls of Kodak Tri-X, shake the bag, grab a new roll at random and shoot again. He did not know which image would be superimposed on another, what ghosts might speak to each other in one frame.

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