Born Naples, Italy (1965), lives and works in Naples, Italy
Biometric Agency 2015 – ongoing
self-adhesive vinyl, digital prints on paper
210cm x 150cm; 70cm x 50cm
Courtesy of the artist
Commissioned by Lagos Biennial 2024
On the occasion of the Lagos Biennial 2024, I am presenting the project Biometric Agency in Tafawa Balewa Square, through stacks of green and white posters featuring the symbol of the biometric code.
The symbol is always in black while the background is white or green, reflecting the colors of Nigeria’s flag.
The project Biometric Agency started in 2015 from a discussion with artist Padraig Timoney, to work with a symbol that had a deep significance that could create a connection with the people invited to participate in the project. Those who have joined the project so far are of different social backgrounds, different genders, different ages, different professions and different nationalities. As an artist, it was natural to involve other artists, also in relation to the fact that everything is realized through making a symbol visible.
I did not design the symbol; it is a reproduction of an existing one that can be found on the cover of all passports: the international AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Capture) symbol, which indicates the existence of a microchip collecting electronic data about the owner of the document. The design of this symbol corresponds to the graphic of a printed electronic circuit board.
The first scientific biometric identification method was developed in the laboratories of La Santé Prison in Paris by Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914), who created an archive of measurements of the physical qualities of inmates so that they could be identified if they were arrested again.
Biometric Agency does not record information on a single body but on a collectivity with multiple identities and different thoughts, and there is no external authority that stores and prepares the data for investigations, it is the ‘coded’ people themselves who enter data of their own choosing. The project declares joint belonging to human existence, beyond the enclosures and constraints to mobility that may be usually associated with this biometric symbol.
I regularly involve people in the project by giving them a flag that I produce myself. All the flags have the same dimensions and feature the same symbol, but each is handcrafted, the symbol is obtained by bleaching the fabric, and this process differentiates them from one another. I ask participants to return a photograph with the flag, leaving room for their interpretation.
While the flag is a symbol of political and social affiliation, of belonging to a nation – but in this case it stands instead for a unity that does not exist other than in creativity.
I am deeply grateful to all the participants who have given me the gift of their gesture and to all those who will participate in the future in this work in progress.
Please send images of the posters of the Biometric Agency posters in the location of your choice to Giulia Piscitelli System at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The project webpage for Biometric Agency can be found here: biometricagency.wordpress.com
Giulia Piscitelli’s work is included in CAPTCHA.