A convenient numbering device | 2018
giclée print | 85x32 cm
The Royal Anthropological Institute (50 Fitzroy Street, London)
An art intervention as a response to the Photographic Affordances exhibition curated by Prof. Paul Basu, on display in the RAI meeting room, with images taken by N.W. Thomas, the first Government Anthropologist to be appointed by the British Colonial Office.
The hand holding the numbering device from one of NWT’s photos was printed, cut out and placed behind the RAI’s fanlight, transforming the meaning of the street number. The door, as to say the frame in its literal sense, provides the physical space for involuntary framing of each person passing the threshold of this institution in order to address the politics of representation within early anthropological methods. Every time a person enters or exits the RAI, this frame contains him or her and an image is taking place. All these tableaux vivants resemble the strategy used by many early anthropologists, including NW Thomas to photograph people as “types” or specimens with a number assigned and sometimes literally attached to each person.