The application of the “Bertillon system” of judicial anthropometry globally established a criminal identification system. It was at first intended to protect society from its “dangerous” or “harmful” elements, although in moments of extreme crisis it experienced a radicalisation exceeding the problem of finding or following lawbreakers, inspiring the most radical dictatorships in the 20th century.
Group exhibition produced in partnership with the Rencontres photographiques in Guiana.
// CONVICTS //
OVERSEAS NATIONAL ARCHIVES/ CAYENNE-FRENCH GUIANA
The penal colony of Guiana opened in 1852. It was closed to metropolitans temporarily due to a high mortality rate in 1869, and reopened in 1887; in the meantime however colonial convicts continued to be sent there. The penal colony archives are prodigious in terms of both their importance and scope and the meticulous information provided. They also have the great advantage of being more or less complete.
Practically all convicts’ files, registration numbers, employee forms, correspondence and administrative papers, directives received from central government and financial controls, in short, the whole history of the colonial penal colonies and their population, since the arrival of the first vessels up to the final evacuation, is now preserved at the National Overseas Archives in Aix-en-Provence.
Exhibition produced in partnership with the National Overseas Archives.
// FILING //
HÉRAULT LOCAL ARCHIVES / FRANCE
From 1907, the first year of anthropometric record-keeping operations established by the General Security against “nomads,” the surveillance of travelling gypsies in France led to a particularly stringent police framework.
Exhibition produced in partnership with the Hérault Local Archives.
// THE GREAT TERROR IN THE FORMER USSR //
TOMASZ KIZNY / POLAND - RUSSIA
Polish photographer and journalist born in 1958 in Poland, Tomasz Kizny was, after martial law was imposed in 1981, one of the founding members of Dementi, a Polish clandestine association of independent photographers. A friend introduced him to a former deportee from the Gulag who had kept photos from Vorkouta, a camp situated beyond the Arctic Circle, where he was interned. From 1986, Tomasz Kizny began to gather accounts from former prisoners who returned to their country after the death of Stalin. He is the great grandson of a Polish deportee. The collapse of the Soviet system enabled him to travel throughout the former USSR in search of accounts and vestiges from the Gulag. Tomasz Kizny firmly believed that it was important to keep a visual memory of the Gulag. For three years, he developed an archive centre in Poland. From 1990, he extended his project to the former Soviet Union.
// KHMERS ROUGES //
MUSEUM OF GENOCIDE “S-21” - TUOL SLENG / CAMBODIA
When camp S21 or Security 21 was liberated at the advent of 1979, only seven survivors were
found in this terrifying prison where thousands of photographs of the prisoners were taken
before their execution. The Khmer Rouge was obsessed with archiving and listed all of their
prisoners. These photos enabled most of the deceased to be identified: doctors, engineers,
many teachers, but also Vietnamese soldiers, an Australian journalist, staff from the Indian
Embassy, Buddhist monks and even Cambodian singers who were well-known at the time!
Also of note is that the “suspects” were arrested with the whole of their family, including the
This former School of Phnom Penh built by the French is now the Tuol Sleng Museum,
providing a merciless account of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime.
// NUMBERED //
URIEL SINAI / GETTY IMAGES / ISRAËL
In 2005, Uriel Sinai moved to the Gush Katif colony in the Gaza strip during the withdrawal
of Israel. For this report he was a “World Press Photo” first prize winner. “Numbered” is a
photography project which pays tribute to Auschwitz survivors. In Israel, some of the young
descendants of camp prisoners have the same numbers tattooed on them as their parents or
grand-parents, so that the memory of the Holocaust lives on. This is not so for certain survivors
of Nazi camps like Ruth Bondy, born in Prague, whose whole family was deported and of which
only four out of twenty-five members escaped death. In Israel where she now lives, she is often
questioned with suspicion about the reason for which she survived this nightmare asking if she
was a ‘kapo’ or a whore! So she chose to get rid of this grim tattoo which she does not regret…
// YANOMÂMI INDIANS //
CLAUDIA ANDUJAR / BRAZIL
Au milieu de cette effrayante litanie des suppliciés du vingtième
siècle, nous avons trouvé Claudia Andujar et son système
Dans les années 1970, la photographe suisse obtient une bourse
de la Fondation Guggenheim, puis une autre de la Fondation
d’Assistance à la Recherche de l’État de São Paulo pour étudier
les indiens yanomâmi. Elle vit parmi eux pendant cinq années.
L’observation du mode de vie et des traditions yanomâmi est,
depuis lors, le fil conducteur de ses photographies.
En 1980, elle accompagne deux amis médecins qui se résignent à
vacciner les indiens yanomâmi contaminés au contact avec l’homme
blanc et que leur médecine traditionnelle ne peut soigner.
De cette campagne ressort un ensemble de portraits portant eux
aussi un numéro d’identification mais, cette fois, pour les sauver.
Cet ensemble exceptionnel, presque conceptuel, est aussi un