Photo exhibition

Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – 2015 Yusef Hawkin’s face is gone and now this child’s face has also been totally erased from the world. I believe her name was Janelle Lynn McCleese, born in 1987 and died in 1990. How did she die? I have imagined that she was hit by a car. The mural lived much longer than she did. Perhaps brevity really is part of the beauty and function of these murals—that their eventual loss further reflects the neighborhood’s demographic changes, the passage of time, the brevity of life. I won’t ever forget Janelle’s face and her lovingly fixed hair. She lives inside all of us who passed by and took notice of her as we walked down Lewis Ave.,-- us, the lucky living, wondrously and briefly animated by life.
623Views
photograph collected by Arkady Bronnikov
photographs collected by Arkady Bronnikov

17 October- 21 November 2014 at the Grimaldi Gavin gallery (27 Albemarle Street – London W1S 4DW). Monday – Friday: 10am – 6pm ; Saturday: 12pm – 4pm.
More info: www.grimaldigavin.com 


A senior expert in criminalistics at the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs for over thirty years, part of Bronnikov’s duties involved visiting correctional institutions of the Ural and Siberia regions. It was here that he interviewed, gathered information and photographed of convicts and their tattoos, building one of the most comprehensive archives of this phenomenon acquired by FUEL in 2013.

The Bronnikov collection, consisting of 918 images, was made for police use only to further the understanding of the language of these tattoos and to act as an aid in the identification and apprehension of criminals in the field. The photographer’s only consideration was the recording of the body for practical purposes. Unimpeded by artistry, these vernacular photographs present a guileless representation of criminal society. The photographs unintentionally betray their human side disclosing evidence of prisoners’ character: aggressiveness, vulnerability, melancholy, and conceit. Their bodies display an unofficial history, told not just through tattoos, but also in scars and missing digits. Closer inspection only confirms our inability to comprehend the unimaginable lives of this previously unacknowledged caste.

Véronique
the authorVéronique
Véronique Poczobut, photo editor of PRIVATE magazine.

Leave a Reply