Illustrator Saul Steinberg spent his career forging and creating ‘fake documents’ to contest against totalitarian regimes at that time. Living in fascist Europe, and then as a Jewish exile at the beginning of World War II, Steinberg had to procure and produce innumerable documents, first as a suspect person and then to obtain safe haven in a new country. He later published his creations in a book ‘The Passport’. This was full of drawings including that of his imagined creations of official bureaucratic paperwork complete with signatures, seals, stamps and fingerprints. The book blended the fake, the old and the new and satirizes government obsession with documents and authentication of identity.
This once again reinforces my idea that the ‘official line’ of history is simply fake and a forgery, like these documents. This book is also clearly an act of rebellion, Steinberg creates his own world through this myriad of documents, a new life. This is all through the tiniest action, forging something so ordinary and small as a stamp or changing a name on a document. By subverting the truth and making a ‘fake’ document, does Steinberg create his own truth and thus a counter narrative in history? I want to explore how such small acts of rebellion can take such different routes. From tampering with a artefact, to changing a name on a personal document, I want to give homage to the rule-breakers in history.