People have used fingerprints for mark-making since the earliest recorded days of civilization.  From the handprints left in the caves of Chauvet and early Chinese fingerprints imprinted in pottery and used as a signature of the artisan, they continue to be a mark-making mode for artists of the present.

 

Yet fingerprints today are far more likely to be used for marking others than for stamping a claim of ownership or creation.  They are most widely employed by the police and forensic labs, banking institutions, and government health services.  Of course, interpreting these prints is an art in itself.  And for all their apparent individual information, fingerprints tell us nothing about age, race, income, or anything else about a person that can be used for enforcing social constructs that define categories of oppression.

 

Where fingerprints were once used as a symbolic action of pride, they have now become a passive action—we are fingerprinted.  I am interested in bringing humanity back to the fingerprint—whether in obsessive repetitious patterns or the intimate setting of a personal bureau that houses our second skin.  

 

The fingerprint work in this series is created with my right index finger.  Each print is catalogued with the date it was created beneath it.  The work revolves around identity—identifying and categorizing people into groups and subgroups within society.  It is now evolving into an exploration of writing—codices, scrolls, mark-making, and the history of recorded symbols and language.  The work also challenges the assumption that a fingerprint indicates a fixed identity, that a fingerprint doesn’t change as we age.

 

It is the notion of a fixed self or our identification of others that I am challenging by the use of color, shape, and pressure of every print I leave behind—along with its accompanying date. 

@ 2019 by Valerie Huhn