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Bertillonage (Bertillon, Alphonse), 1890

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attribute a relative, qualifiable position in a greater ensemble to each criminal body. According to Sekula, in the nineteenth century there were two strategies aimed towards gaining control over this fundamental problem of the archive, each of them associated with the names Alphonse Bertillon or Francis Galton. Alphonse Bertillon developed not only what have since become the prevailing standards for police portrait photography, he also developed a complex classification system that operated with index cards and which was meant to enable picking a particular individual case out of the enormous number of images contained in the archive. In contrast, the anthropologist and eugenicist Francis Galton condensed numerous photographs by superimposing them to create an ‹ideal› composite image, which was meant to cause individual traits to disappear and the characteristics common to the superimposed portraits to manifest. This was to make the ‹typical attributes› of the criminal as well as of various ‹races› visible. While Bertillon was concerned with the unambiguous identification of a person, Galton was occupied with typification intended to help recognize criminals


according to physiognomic traits, preferably in the run-up to a crime. Sekula sums it up: «Bertillon sought to embed the photograph in the archive. Galton sought to embed the archive in the photograph.» [32] According to Sekula, these two poles characterize the treatment of the archive, which beyond its police purpose in a stricter sense also soon became the «dominant institutional basis for photographic meaning.» [33]

Walker Evans’ «dialogue with the empirical methods of the detective police»

At the end of «The Body and the Archive,» Sekula asks: «To what degree did selfconscious modern practice accommodate itself to the model of the archive?» [34] He suggests several related possibilities, of which he regards the work by Walker Evans as the most complicated and intellectually sophisticated reaction to the model of the archive. Sekula cites the strategy of the «poetic structure of the sequence,» which Evans used in his book «American Photographs» (1938). [35] Sekula also makes brief mention of Evans' subway photographs from the late

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