A Rough History (of a Destruction of Fingerprints)
‘To live means to leave traces’ – Walter Benjamin
We were huddled in front of the thin light of a fire in an abandoned house on a cold January night in Calais. X was making another cup of very sugary tea. Y, stirring the kindling, yelled as he accidentally grabbed a burning twig. ‘Are you trying to clean your fingerprints?’ laughed X.
A Rough History is a film that considers a practice by migrants entering the EU of destroying their fingerprints to avoid detection by in the Eurodac system, alongside other histories of fingerprinting and fingerprint erasures. It looks at the coalescence of skin and data in the collection and destruction of fingerprints, at the life and circulation of the image of the fingerprint, and the different lives of the bodies that produce such images. This is a speculative history that travels from border checks, to other forms of fingerprint erasure, to early gestures in film.