Magnetic fields of opposing charges — movement against static, a dusty palate, a neon splash, tension and release, The Palimpsest Series invites viewers to lose themselves within textured dreamscapes and then it deliberately breaks this spell with shards of photographic realism.

This is the first time The Palimpsest Series, photographs from Sri Lanka, India and Myanmar, is being exhibited in its entirety and with the Palimpsest Soundscape. It is apt that this exhibition debut in Abu Dhabi where the culture simultaneously embraces international influences and local tradition. Here, like The Palimpsest Series photographs, traces of tradition burn through layers of contemporary perception to form an indelible palimpsest.

“Each Palimpsest photograph is a compressed memory, my version of Chinese Whispers in which by retelling stories that I do not fully understand, I change information and rationalize according to my own beliefs, biases and cultural background. Memories and fantasies are intertwined, crossing over and interfering with each other, becoming enhanced and distorted with each recollection as I selectively composite each Palimpsest image to reflect my version of the truth, as if changing the lyrics to a well-known song.” Wendy Bednarz

The Palimpsest Soundscape, created with Sound Designer Garreth Chan, is in dialogue with the Palimpsest photographs. These sonic-threads wax and wane into a dreamy anthropophony, inviting the listener to create their own narrative by connecting disparate sounds; the possibilities are as limitless as the listener’s imagination. Tuk-Tuks, spinning bicycle wheels, rainstorms, cows, synthesized drones, processed spoken word, Indian chanting and advertising jingles are a few of the one-hundred-eighty-three sonic-threads that are sourced from the same countries as The Palimpsest Series photographs to create an immersive viewing experience.


Wendy Bednarz is on the faculty of NYU Abu Dhabi in the Arts and New Media division.