Who’s Who is a multi-screen installation forming part of Subotzky’s Retinal Shift touring exhibition. Eleven 55-inch screens hang side by side vertically in the gallery. Each screen plays a slideshow of portraits scanned from a set of books entitled Who’s Who of Southern Africa. These screens display images from one year’s edition of this title. The years assigned to the screens are the following – 1911, 1921, 1931, 1941, 1951, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001, 2011. Each year has over 3000 portraits.
This work concerns itself with the history and politics of the designation of importance. The portraits of important people are decontextualised from any of the other information in the books that assigns their importance – their names, their titles and their achievements. The slideshows thus become an endless parade of faces of importance as personified in over 40 000 portraits from books of the last century. The very last screen is home to images from 2011, when an online site of the same name had replaced the printed books.