Here's a collection of portraits and short stories from people I met on my trips around the world. Thank you for tuning in and see you soon, bye bye!

Casa Na Bolom Photo Archives, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, Spring 2020. 

I have always had a great desire to go to Latin America. Ever since I was an adolescent. When I started traveling in the 80’s, it was incredibly restless, there were civil wars here and I couldn’t travel to Mexico. And when I finally got the chance to travel to Mexico. When I arrived in San Cristobal I heard about this place called Casa Na Bolom. They told me there was a photo archive. I just graduated as a professional photographer and it sure sounded very interesting. 

I followed them to the second patio when you entered Na Bolom. On the left, just around the corner, there was a small hidden office where nobody was allowed in. It had a large padlock on the door. I wondered why you would keep an archive if no one is in it, no one is allowed in … 

It was Na Bolom’s completely closed photo archive and I wanted to open it. 

It was a very small space, completely crammed with mainly photos, negatives, photo books and photo albums. And there were some sort of small albums, small catalogs that I think, or assume, Trudy and Frans made together. And movies, big movie cans with old movies in them, and also an audio collection. Everything was mixed up, and I started organising the archive, dividing and organising all material per indigenous community. 

The first period working with the archives, I got to know the story of Trudy Blom. I was mainly working with her photos. Back then the archives of Frans were kept in a different place, they were kept in the library. There were films that Frans had made, but not his negatives, not his work with archeology and stuff. Yes, the archives were scattered all over the place, in other words, there were boxes in the attic and so on. So I had not seen the archives of Frans Blom at all. 

Since 2018 I have learned a lot more about the fieldwork of Frans Blom, now that all of the archives have moved to one building. 

I learned more and more about after Bolom as a whole, instead of just the photos of Gertrudy. We made a timeline from when Frans came to Mexico until his death. And then the most important expeditions and so on. Then I also read his biography, for example, things all come together. 

We are in the process of digitalising the archives, we have scanned almost 9000 out of 50,000 negatives. We do have a bit of a working plan, but because of the pandemic, things are going a bit slower than we had hoped. And I’m only talking about the negatives, we also have a lot of slides. And we’ve recently received new negatives from David.

“Frans Blom collected, cut and pasted information from different sources. He created whole catalogs full of all sorts of information about different archeological sites. This one is about Palenque. And These are all colour photos with texts. But just look at the state of it. Photographic material deteriorates, one day it will be gone. You can’t keep it forever. That’s why its so important to digitalise.”

I found the archive important for Na Bolom but even more so for the Mayan communities in the altos and in the selva. I thought it was very important that the material should also be known to those people.

Because I still see it that way, it’s history so to speak, a lot of the history of those communities. Not just in words, but in images. In photos, moving images and sound.

If a researcher from, for example, the United States wanted to use a number of photos for a publication for his research, I would print images from the archive in Na Bolom’s darkroom and send them to the US. With the money we made from printing and selling those photos we could spend that money in photo prints for the communities. We have had various exhibitions in various communities and it was so beautiful when people walked past the pictures, and you could hear people say things like ‘look, that’s my uncle, and look kid, that was your grandfather’.

People recognised the persons and the events in the photographs and started talking about them…

Sometimes I am asked why I would spend so much time working with these old archives. But I know that through the work, indirectly I am helping people.