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Berni Searle

Lifeline, South Africa, 1999

Digital prints, archival pigment ink on arches watercolour paper 24 photographs, 42x50 cm each .

Courtesy of the artist and Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town

The palm of a black man appears in Bernie Searleā€™s work in enlarged close-up, split into 24 equal sections. This is the personal topography of every man which differentiates him from his fellow man, and connects him to one large human family. Searle uses the body as a starting point for her work, and through the language of ethnographic codes she challenges the political, historical and visual stereotypes of South Africa. The enlargement of the palm imprinted with ink sabotages the identification procedure linked to this procedure. It is by deliberate underlining of the identifying details that Searle prevents the activity of identification and classification.