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I come from peoples in exile.

I became an adult with an extreme sensitivity to the irreconcilable...

Since 1990, I have committed my creative energy to developing a body of work which explores my family history and sense of identity. Saints and Shadows is a refuge against silence and forgetting. The work becomes a personal diary where I mold the emotional aura surrounding my Palestinian Christian and Polish Jewish family as I was growing up in El Salvador.

With the Todos los santos (All the Saints) images, I explore my memories of childhood as well as delve into the expression of identity of my paternal, Palestinian Christian family. Through the finding of family photos and documents, with the collection of oral histories, and with the re-evaluation of my own perceptions, I am slowly reconstructing a world that, with the process of assimilation and the passage of time, had become anonymous.

With the making of the ¿Sólo una Sombra? (Only a Shadow?) images, I wander into a world where silence is refuge: persecuted in France and in Poland during World War II, my maternal family had no alternative but to become invisible. Through my work, I begin to unearth the lingering echoes of those previously-silenced voices, hoping to regenerate them, from burnt ash into glimmering light.

My photographic work, then, is a process of re-encounter, of synthesis and of re-creation. Through it, past and present become interlaced in a renewed configuration: the Palestinian desert and Eastern European ash sift, shift and blend in the volcanic sands of El Salvador, to form the texture of the path on which I define and express my experience.

Muriel Hasbun

Muriel Hasbun can be reached