The Rogues Gallery
Developed in 1855 by Inspector Allan Pinkerton, The Rogues Gallery established a uniform compilation of photographs, names, and descriptions of criminals meant for quick and accurate identification.
Having been the child of two painters, my earliest understanding of an artist's position in the world was heavily skewed. Our family's social interactions during my formative years were with those of like-minded artists - politically radical and socially critical. Belonging to a community that nourished and sustained the creative self, I took for granted societal acceptance of my creativity. It was only as I entered into my adolescence that I began to confront the harsher reality that artists are more often perceived as outcasts, living lifestyles and expressing ideas that are more or less antithetical to traditional values, the unfamiliar so often seen as dangerous.
This notion of the artist being regarded as subversive can be traced across cultures and through time, from Francisco de Goya's revolutionary depictions of war during the reign of Ferdinand VII in Spain, to Adolph Hitler's condemnation of modern art as incendiary and dangerous to German society. This perception, whether real or imagined, and fear of its transformative power, continues today, with many regarding the artist as the minacious crusader, withdrawn from the established norms of society, flaunting convention and threatening societal stability.
It is from this context that a crude version of Pinkerton's Infamous Rogues Gallery is presented. The thirty-six artists featured in the exhibition put forward their own portrayals of individuals condemned by a conformist and fearful society. With artworks arranged in the standardized format of criminal photography, the viewer is challenged to inhabit the psychology of a population seeking to understand the differences between themselves and the artist; between themselves and the perpetrators of crimes that they would never consider committing.
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