Taxonomy of the Barricade
Image Acts of Political Authority in Mai 68
Nero Editions, 2021
An iconographic taxonomy—researched, conceived, and ideated by Wolfgang Scheppe, also author of the book’s final essay—that traces the state and police visual control through almost 500 images from the May 1968 police archives in Paris.
The pictorial order of a regime of surveillance applied during the last wide-ranging insurgence in Europe’s history surfaces from the analysis of this unique visual archive. Following the events happening at the Sorbonne in May 1968, alongside general strikes and nationwide factory occupations, France’s state of emergency becomes apparent through a specific iconography of visual control.
This critical moment in the development of governmental visualization strategies towards a totalitarian god’s perspective on the urban fabric has been researched and documented for the first time, by employing the vast photo archives of the Archives de la Préfecture de police de Paris. Among other characteristic typologies of authoritative monitoring aspects, the events in May ’68 marked the historic beginning of the deployment of helicopter based aerial photography as a means of governmental crowd control in a situation of escalating insurrection. The political will to gain an unobstructed view on any individual motion pattern represented in the project leads to epistemically-new technologies that combine observation with political governance, and the use of force as recently manifested in the agency of drones and face recognition.
In 2019 the project was awarded the FLAT Prize.
Wolfgang Scheppe lives between Switzerland and Venice, where he has been teaching political philosophy. He is the head of the Arsenale Institute for Politics of Representation in Venice and the author of extensive research works that culminated in many book projects and international exhibitions.