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1. IF, WHERE – The formula ‘missing persons’ refers to a phenomenon related to those people who, forcedly or voluntarily, moved away from their home leaving no trace behind. Being permanently absent, their state of life or death cannot be ascertained. Failing international rules to regulate the matter, every government normally bears on the local jurisdiction. Whereas in most of the countries a missing person can be declared legally dead after seven years (declared death in absentia), in Italy it takes at least ten years for a person to be officially ‘presumed death’. In general, the declaration of death is pronounced following the laws in force in the country in which the absent person has been seen for the last time. Regarding the legal effects, it entails exactly the same consequences of physical death both in terms of patrimonial and personal integrity, except for the cases in which the declared presumed dead comes back into society or where there is some evidence of his outliving. 2. IF, HOW – Interpol (International Crime Police Organization, funded in 1914 and composed by 190 member states) is the only international organization providing an online database dedicated to the research of missing persons, that can be publicly consulted. All the pictures included in this book are taken from the archive to represent the totality of people signposted and officially researched by international authorities on a certain day and at a certain time. Between 1974 and 2013, only in Italy disappeared 26.081 persons among which 9.538 Italian and 16.543 foreigners. Paradoxically, the number of complaints of disappearance registered internationally and reported on the archive, amounts just to 832 cases. During the months between March and July 2014, 171 pictures of missing persons have been removed from the Interpol archive. Despite the regular continuous update of the system, every time that a picture disappeared from the database, any information about the results of the research is provided. 3. SIGN VS ICON – On the 11th of July 2014 the archive reported 832 missing persons from 90 different countries. The present work refers to the data supplied on the website http://www.interpol.int/Missing-Persons in a certain timeframe, and for this reason leaves apart whatsoever scientific claim in aid of a purely visual anaysis of the phenomenon. Calling into question the signage value of the collected materials, the thought goes to the uses and abuses of a certain type of images, to their language and significance. Missing the relation with the subject, their meaning get lost as soon as they ask to be used as something they are not (i.e. pictures) revealing the weakness of a certain will of control. Among the 832 identities reported on the archive: 129 are devoid of pictures and show the sentence ‘photo not available’ – 491 are males – 341 are women – 671 are people disappeared between 2013 and 2014 – 450 are adults – 382 are underage. According to the data collected, the countries with the highest amount of missing persons are: Jamaica (127 missing), Colombia (117 missing) and Honduras (52 missing).
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