‘Unable to recognize fingerprint’

Baran Caginli

100x130cm, sanded European map by hand


The EU asylum process is governed by the Dublin Regulation, which requires people to apply for protection in the first country they enter. Most of the refugees don’t want to examine their asylum applications in those first countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, etc. because of the countries’ refugee policies, camp conditions and economical situations. For this reason, refugees trying to move and seek asylum in second or third countries rather than first countries.

Since 2003,  the European Union is using EURODAC system (European Dactyloscopy) to control irregular border-crossers between European Union countries and identifying asylum seekers via their fingerprints. With Eurodac, refugees cannot seek asylum in any country other than the country from which they entered Europe and were first gave fingerprints. Many of them stuck in refugee camps like a prison with terrible conditions.

Refugees started to erase their fingerprints with sandpaper, acid, or using a knife, razor and mutilate the fingerprints so as not to be identified with the Eurodac system. In the work, European map sanded by an artist, only using hands. As a result, European countries and the borders erased and became undefinable, and same time artist whose fingerprints erased has became unidentifiable, like refugees who erase their identity to survive.


Baran Caginli (b.1990, Istanbul) is a Helsinki based artist, working with different disciplines. The framework of his practice relates to issues such as systematic repression, extermination, disappearance, amnesia, ethnic discrimination, state power, forced migrations, forced disappearances but in the same time re-appearance, collective memory and the state’s contradictions. Most people and objects he has included in his works are in the position of witness of an incident. Although the witnesses belong to local problems and realities, they also refer to problems and witnesses in other geopolitical contexts.

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