"A palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again. The word 'palimpsest' comes through Latin palimpsēstus from Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος (palímpsestos, 'scratched or scraped again') originally compounded from πάλιν (palin, 'again') and ψάω (psao, 'I scrape') literally meaning 'scraped clean and used again'."
I heard the first time from the term "palimpsest" as I participated in the Off_Camp project when I was at the University of Hanover, Germany. There a fellow student had the idea to use this technique for our work.
We made many drawings and used old book pages as paper. On the second photo you can see a drawing, which I made.
A cover of one of these books I've used some years ago for the photo collage "café brasil".
I was so excited about the palimpsest technique, that I wanted to use it for photography. Therefore in September 2005, when I started my photographic work, I had some ideas to print photos on old and used paper.
But with time I forgot the idea.
At the first meeting for the Mostra SESC de Arte Contemporânea - Aldeias: Mémorias e Identidades in September 2011, the curator Carla Carvalho showed us some examples of "fotografia contaminada" ("contaminated photography"), like the photos of Liu Bolin. She also said that my style would belong to the "fotografia contaminada".
I was very surprised, because I've never heard from this term. Later I searched in the internet and found the text "A fotografia contaminada como possibilidade nas poéticas artísticas contemporâneas" (see also here) by Karine Gomes Perez. She also wrote another text "As noções de contaminação , impureza e tensão no campo da fotografia contemporânea e na poética artística pessoal".
The theory of the contaminated photography shows, that photography itself, the traditional use of photography to just make pictures, isn't the only matter you can do with the photography.
Artists use photography to document their works of Land Art, Earth Art, Body Art, Happenings and Perfomances. This is why the pictures of these works become a part of it or become the proper art work.
Photographers and artists have got more possibilities and options to use their pictures in another context, for example in installations with other materials; or in the method to feature the pictures, for example to print pictures on glass, fabrics and other materials.
Good examples for this are Rosângela Rennó, Alexandre Sequerira and Luis Gonzalez Palma.
Another aspect is, to use another machine or thing as a camera, like a photocopier or a scanner.
The possibilities and options how to use photography are unlimited and the photography is approaching other art styles like the painting and video-art.
Another very interesting text, which I found, is "A gênese fotográfica" by Maria Gorete Dadalto Gonçalves.
In October 2011 I read an article in the news paper "Folha de S. Paulo" about "antifotografia", here the introduction:
"Na fotografia do século 21, não existe mais o instante decisivo. Está aposentada a noção clássica de autoria, e a realidade mergulha na ficção.
Expoentes dessa antifotografia misturam imagens alheias, manipulam registros documentais, resgatam arquivos esquecidos e defendem a destruição da foto."
In English: "The decisive moment doesn't exist more in the photography of the 21st century. The traditional notion of authorship is retired, and the reality drops into the fiction.
Exponentials of this anti-photography ('antifotografia') mix third-party pictures, manipulate documentary records [or: documentary pictures], rescue lost files [or: pictures] and protect the destruction of the picture."
The text shows the (photo) artists / photographers Doug Rickard and his Google pictures, Penelope Umbrico and her sunsets from Flickr, Cia de Foto and their pictures of the archive of Bom Retiro, Ivan Grilo and his family photographs, Pedro Victor Brandão who destroys pictures (slide film) with UV light, Alice Miceli and her "radioactive pictures" of Chernobyl, and Letícia Ramos with her blue and white pictues of North Pole.
The texts about "fotografia contaminada" and "antifotografia" awoke again my idea to use the palimpsest technique. Therefore I searched in the last days for old and used paper and I found them.
The most special piece is a german letter from 1947.
After the Second World War paper was very rare in Germany and the people used everything to write on it, for example old files and printed forms. The letter, I've used, is a newsletter from a gymnastics club and the supplement is a request for help to send paper, because the gymnastics club needed paper for new newsletters.
In fact this letter from 1947 is a palimpsest, because they used paper, which was a file or a printed form.
At the first picture of the Palimpsest Series I printed the photo on rough cardbord, then I stuck two laundry bills from a hotel in Bali, where I was in 2002, and a photo from a magazine on the picture and finally I ripped the bills and the magazine photo off:
"laundry bill" with the photo "my view 2010 #2"
For the second picture I've used a page from an old book. Some pages from this book I used for the Off_Camp drawing (see the picture above). The text of the book is in German and is about Jesus:
"von dem zwecke jesus" with the photo "the saint"
The third photo I've printed on an old german printed form in which the activity of an apprentice will be graded (I've once already used one of this printed forms for the photo collage "ausschnitt 1-3".):
"tätigkeitsbericht des lehrlings" with the photo "emancipate yourself from mental slavery"
The fourth photo is printed on an old photo, from the 1950s or 1960s, of a Great Uncle of mine. I think he was at the Battle of Stalingrad. First I thought that it's impossible to print on an old photo, but it works:
"dancing portrait" with the photo "dancers in the dark"
The next picture is the most expensive of the series. Just a joke, but in the years 1970 - 1986 this money, which I've used, had some value, but today it's just wastepaper. I've used 3 banknotes of 100 000 Cruzeiros, 2 banknotes of 5 000 Cruzeiros and one banknote of 1 000 Cruzeiros, in total a value of 311 000 Cruzeiros. Wow, I'm rich:
"cem mil cruzeiros" with the photo "the shadows"
The penultimate picture of the series is printed on the german letter from 1947, which I've already mentioned.
"drucksache" with the photo "einsame zweisamkeit"
I've printed the last picture on transparent drawing paper, on which I wrote some years ago my poem "utopia":
"utopia" with the photo "momentos de transição 02"
At the vernissage of the Mostra SESC de Arte Contemporânea - Aldeias: Mémorias e Identidades, Charles Steuck and Aline Assumpção talked with me about my work for this exhibition. They meant that something like this would be easier with photoshop than with older techniques. And of course, they're right, but to work without photoshop is another world! It's vague, but free!
But what is a photographic palimpsest? A photo collage? A sandwich?
Hmm maybe one of them, maybe both, maybe neither...
After the prints were dry, I put them into picture frames. But I've used old frames and each picture has got a own and unique frame, with a different size and design.