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Citizens

Curator: Neta Gal-Azmon 6.4.2017 - 5.8.2017

 The notion of the artist's signature — his "fingerprint" — acquires a poetic, and at the same time highly concrete, meaning in Gal Weinstein's work. Weinstein burns his own fingerprint, outlined in cotton wool and attached to paper, projecting the act of burning in a loop as a continuous event. Observation of this ever-so-private physical trait going up in flames recalls another expression which encapsulates the artist's relationship with his work, executed "with his last drop of blood." This simple, well executed act seems to conceal great pain.
The fingerprint has become a metaphor for the individual's singularity in light of the physiological fact that there are no two identical fingerprints. The unique ridge pattern on a person's fingertips, determined during the fourth month of the fetus's development, remains intact and unchangeable throughout one's lifetime. Therefore, fingerprints are a primary means in identification, whether by the police or by security and intelligence organizations. Following 9/11, the American government has expanded the use of such biometric means for the purpose of the war on terror. In March 2008 the Biometric Database Law was also passed in Israel, requiring all citizens to give their fingerprints, to be combined, alongside a picture, in ID cards, digital passports, and a state database.
The law was approved despite extensive public criticism, and it remains controversial among ministers as well. The main fear is of an unrestricted infringement of citizens' privacy under the guise of the law, use of biometric data without consent or knowledge of their owner, and expanding the use of the database for unintended purposes. The leakage of data from the Ministry of the Interior census to private hands and the Internet over the years, and the police's impotence in dealing with the problem, raise the fear that the information might reach the wrong, or even hostile, hands. Furthermore, some argue that the law indicates a dangerous governmental state of mind, since the gathering of biometric details renders every citizen a guilty suspect until proven innocent.


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