To accompany ‘Identity: Eight rooms, nine lives’, Black Dog Publishing have produced a handsome and thought-provoking volume, ‘Identity and Identification’, expanding on the exhibition’s themes. The introduction, by Wellcome Collection’s Ken Arnold and James Peto, puts its finger on the contemporary problem of knowing who we are.
Are we mostly what our genes have made us, what our parents wished us to be, what we work at, where we were born, or some combination of our class, gender race and age; or more flippantly just what we eat? So while bioinformatics instruments can pick each of us out from an unimaginable large crowd, we are nevertheless undecided about what exactly makes us ourselves.
The book includes plenty of material from the exhibition, with biographies and images based around the exhibition’s rooms for April Ashley, Claude Cahun, Samuel Pepys, Franz Joseph Gall, Francis Galton, the Hinch twins, Alec Jeffreys and Fiona Shaw, as well as interviews with Jonathan Freedland, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Prospect’s David Goodhart and Billy Bragg.