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Ways of Thinking is designed for anyone interested in exploring contemporary art and its exhibition frameworks. It offers contextualizing information on the concepts of the Gallery’s exhibitions and programs, the artists and the works featured. You can find a general presentation, areas of inquiry and ideas to reflect upon as well as suggested Internet links and bibliographic references that allow you to gain a general understanding of the artist’s approach to artmaking, the works featured and the curatorial framework adopted. It also offers a forum in which “ways of thinking” can be shared and compared: Within the ongoing program of the Gallery, and amongst the artists, curators, writers, and other contributors and participants including visitors. This takes on facets of physical and virtual forms, all of which are being collected here. Together, they form an information database and research repository that is accessible to students, teachers and anyone interested in the Gallery’s programs. This archive is an active one, because it renders the meeting points between the individual parts of the Gallery’s programs tangible.

IN THE VESTIBULE WITH FORENSIC ARCHITECTURE
Liquid Traces: The Left-to-Die Boat Case, 2014. Video still. Courtesy of Forensic Oceanography, London

Forensic Architecture (FA) is a research agency started in 2011 and based at Goldsmiths, University of London, that undertakes advanced architectural and media research on behalf of international prosecutors, human rights organisations, as well as political and environmental justice groups. It collates and analyses traditional and new forms of data and evidence coming from sites of human rights violations with the aim of creating graphic depictions and scientific studies that can serve for evidentiary and advocacy purposes. Forensic Architecture is also an emergent field developed at Goldsmiths. It refers to the production and presentation of architectural evidence—buildings and larger environments and their media representations.

Forensic Architecture is funded by the European Research Council, the OAK Foundation, the Potter Foundation, and the Sigrid Rausing Trust.

An introductory text by the exhibition’s curator, Michèle Thériault can be read here.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Agamben, Giorgio. “Beyond Human Rights.” In Means without End: Notes on Politics. Translated by Vincenzo Binetti and Cesare Casarino. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

Appadurai, Arjun. The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Azoulay, Ariella. The Civil Contract of Photography. Brooklyn: Zone Books, 2008.

Daston, Lorraine and Peter Galison. Objectivity. New York: Zone Books, 2007.

Read more

Enwezor, Okwui. “Documentary/Verité: Bio-politics, Human Rights, and the Figure of ‘Truth’ in Contemporary Art.” The Green Room: Reconsidering the Documentary and Contemporary Art #1, edited by Maria Lind and Hito Steyerl. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2008. 62-102.

Felman, Shoshana. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History. New York: Routledge, 1992.

Foucault, Michel. Fearless Speech. Edited by Joseph Pearson. New York: Semiotext(e), 2001.

Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols, and their Commentaries. <https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/vwTreaties1949.xsp>

Keenan, Thomas. “Counter-forensics and Photography.” Grey Room 55 (Spring 2014): 58-77.

Keenan, Thomas and Eyal Weizman. Mengele’s Skull: The Advent of a Forensic Aesthetics. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2011.

Krugan, Laura. Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology and Politics. New York: Zone Books, 2013.

Mbembe, Achille. “Necropolitics.” Public Culture 15, no. 1 (2003): 11-40.

Sekula, Allan. “The Body and the Archive.” October 39 (Winter, 1986): 3-64.

Weizman, Eyal, ed. Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014.

Weizman, Eyal. Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation. New York: Verso, 2007.

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Produced with the support of the Frederick and Mary Kay Lowy Art Education Fund.

CURATOR

Michèle Thériault

Michèle Thériault is a curator, writer and editor who is currently director of the Leonard & Bina Art Gallery at Concordia University in Montreal. She is interested in translational issues in art, reflexive frameworks, knowledge in art and in the site of exhibition. As director of the Ellen Art Gallery, she has developed a program that reflects critically upon contemporary artistic production and curatorial activity sometimes in relation to the recent history of contemporary art. She has curated many exhibitions with Canadian and international artists such as Timelength (2004); Claude Tousignant. 3 paintings, 1 sculpture, 3 spaces (2005); Walid Raad, The Atlas Group (2006); the first exhibition in North American of Harun Farocki’s installations (2007); Silvia Kolbowski. Nothing and Everything (2009), Kent Monkman: My Treaty is With the Crown (2011). She also co-curated Traffic, Conceptual Art in Canada, 1965-1980 (2010-2013). She is the editor of numerous publications and the author of many essays.

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RESEARCH TEAMS

The Left-to-Die Boat

CHARLES HELLER

Originally from Geneva, Charles Heller completed a Masters in International Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London and graduated in Fine Arts from the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Geneva. Over the last few years his work has mainly focused on the politics of migration and the politicity of art and media. He is currently producing video and spatial evidence of non-assistance to migrants at sea during NATO’s intervention in Libya. He is working towards a PhD in Research Architecture at Goldsmiths.

LORENZO PEZZANI

Lorenzo Pezzani is an architect, a researcher, and a PhD candidate at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths. His work focuses on spatial politics, human rights and media.

SITU Research

SITU Research is an interdisciplinary practice working in design, visualization and spatial analysis. Focused on developing innovative strategies and new tools, SITU Research leverages a strong foundation in architecture, materials and digital instrumentation to collaborate with and contribute to a diverse array of fields. A core value of SITU Research is the applied nature of its work—the studio seeks to address challenges grounded in urgent contemporary spatial issues—be they social, scientific or artistic.

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Nakba Day Killings

EYAL WEIZMAN (Principal Investigator)

Eyal Weizman is an architect, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures, and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a founding member of the architectural collective DAAR in Beit Sahour/Palestine. His books include Mengele’s Skull (with Thomas Keenan at Sterenberg Press, 2012), Forensic Architecture (dOCUMENTA13 notebook, 2012), The Least of All Possible Evils (Nottetempo 2009, Verso 2011), Hollow Land (Verso, 2007), A Civilian Occupation (Verso, 2003), the series Territories 1, 2 and 3, Yellow Rhythms and many articles in journals, magazines and edited books. He has worked with a variety of NGOs worldwide, and was a member of the B’Tselem board of directors. He has lectured, curated and organised conferences in many institutions worldwide.

NICK AXEL (Research and Coordination)

Nick Axel has been working with Forensic Architecture since 2014 and contributed to Nakba Day Killings and Rafah: Black Friday with research, coordination, editing and interactive design. In 2015, he worked on The Gaza Transcripts, a project studio at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the Centre for Documentary Architecture. Nick graduated from the Centre for Research Architecture in 2014 with distinction, where he conducted geographical, legal and financial research into the deregulation of hydraulic fracturing in the United States. In addition to his work at Forensic Architecture, Nick is Managing Editor at Volume magazine.

STEFFEN KRAEMER (Video Compositing and Montage)

Steffen Krämer received his MA in Research Architecture from Goldsmith University London and his Diploma in Communication in Social and Economic Contexts from the University of the Arts Berlin. He works as an independent video editor, cinematographer, and producer on individual and collective audiovisual projects with a current interest in experimental documentary and essay film relating to questions of architecture and contemporary media apparatuses. He teaches media design and theory at the Department of Applied Media Studies at the University of Cottbus.

LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN (Audio Forensics)

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a London-based artist and researcher. His work explores the legal status of the voice. His solo exhibitions include “The Freedom of Speech Itself” (2012) at The Showroom, London, “Aural Contract: The Whole Truth” (2012) at Casco, Utrecht, and most recently “Tape Echo” (2013) at Beirut in Cairo. He is currently a PhD candidate in Research Architecture at Goldsmiths.

JACOB BURNS (Research)

Jacob Burns is a writer and researcher who joined Forensic Architecture to work on Drone Strikes and now focuses on the group’s work in Gaza. He was the DAAR winter resident in 2015.

DEFENSE FOR CHILDREN INTERNATIONAL PALESTINE (DCIP)

Defense For Children International Palestine (DCIP) is committed to securing a just and viable future for Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

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INVESTIGATIONS

The Left-to-Die Boat by Forensic Oceanography

The Left-to-Die Boat, 2012

Computer station and Liquid Traces: The Left-to-Die Boat Case, 2014, digital video, 17 min. 59 sec.

Investigating team: Charles Heller + Lorenzo Pezzani. In collaboration with SITU Research

Courtesy of Forensic Oceanography, London

The Forensic Oceanography project was launched in summer 2011 to support a coalition of NGOs demanding accountability for the deaths of migrants in the central Mediterranean Sea while that region was being tightly monitored by the NATO-led coalition intervening in Libya. The efforts were focused on what is now known as the “left-to-die boat” case, in which sixty-three migrants lost their lives while drifting for fourteen days within the NATO maritime surveillance area.

By going “against the grain” in our use of surveillance technologies, we were able to reconstruct with precision how events unfolded and demonstrate how different actors operating in the Central Mediterranean Sea used the complex and overlapping jurisdictions at sea to evade their responsibility for rescuing people in distress. The report we produced formed the basis for a number of ongoing legal petitions filed against NATO member states.

The ultimate destination of the report on the “left-to-die boat” has been a series of legal cases regarding nonassistance to people in distress at sea led by a coalition of NGOs*. Cases have been filed in France, Italy, Belgium, and Spain, while Freedom of Information requests have been submitted in Canada, the US, and the UK. These initiatives, as well as an investigation by the Council of Europe and by several journalists, have forced states and militaries concerned to release further data on the events. The reconstruction of facts in the Forensic Oceanography report has never been contested in these responses; however, the information provided so far remains vague and incomplete and has not allowed us to determine legal responsibility for the deaths of sixty-three people on board the “left-to-die boat.”

* The list of organizations belonging to this coalition includes: The Aire Centre, Agenzia Habeshia, Associazione Ricreativa e Culturale Italiana (ARCI), Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione (ASGI), Boats4People, Canadian Centre for International Justice, Coordination et initiatives pour réfugiés et immigrés (Ciré), Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme (FIDH), Groupe d’information et de soutien des immigrés (GISTI), Ligue belge des droits de l’Homme (LDH), Ligue française des droits de l’Homme (LDH), Migreurop, Progress Lawyers Network, Réseau euro-méditerranéen des droits de l’Homme (REMDH), and Unione Forense per la Tutela dei Diritti Umani (UFTDU).

EXPLORE

Freedom to move and disruption: Consider how Liquid Traces commences with a comparison between the history of trade and connectivity across the Mediterranean and the present day Mediterranean as the dividing line or, in this case, blind spot, between North Africa and the Eurozone.

Visualization and circulation: How the map prepared by Forensic Oceanography was taken up, modified and redistributed across different media outlets. How this circulation not only extends and continues the claims of the investigation but also helps constitute the “forum” as understood by the agency to be at root of forensics.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

The Left-to-Die Boat investigation on forensic-architecture.org <http://www.forensic-architecture.org/case/left-die-boat/>

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Nakba Day Killings by Forensic Architecture

Nakba Day Killings, 2014

Computer station and video synopsis Nakba Day Killings, 2014, digital video, 14 min. 44 sec.

Investigating team: Eyal Weizman, Nick Axel, Steffen Kraemer, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Jacob Burns. In collaboration with Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP)

Courtesy of Forensic Architecture, London

Every year on May 15th, acts of memorialization and resistance take place throughout Palestine to commemorate the Nakba catastrophe of 1948, when Palestinian people were violently displaced from the land that subsequently became Israel. On Nakba Day 2014, a protest culminated in clashes with Israeli security forces outside of the Ofer Prison in the town of Beitunia, next to Ramallah. Two teenagers, Nadeem Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu Daher, 16 were shot dead in front of security cameras and TV film crews. The videos showed that the two Palestinian teens were shot while walking unarmed and posing no threat. One video, shot by CNN, captured two different members of the Israeli security forces on site discharging their weapons in the protestor’s direction, and then panning to show Nawara’s body being carried towards an ambulance. Despite this footage, the Israeli security forces denied committing this massacre.

Defence for Children International (DCI) Palestine, acting on behalf of the teenagers’ parents, commissioned Forensic Architecture to investigate all available material in relation to both killings and produce a body of evidence that can be used to hold the perpetrators accountable. The report focused on establishing the definitive account of who shot and killed the two teenagers and whether it was intentional or not. We identified the border policeman who killed Nawara and proved beyond reasonable doubt that his action was intentional.

Nawara was killed by live fire shot through a rubber-coated steel bullet attachment. The analysis demonstrates that the border policeman was aware of the fact he was shooting live rounds and tried to conceal his actions. By conducting cutting-edge audio forensics, we established that the same act of occlusion was used to kill Abu Daher too. While there is not enough material to determine the identity of the border policeman who shot and killed Abu Daher, we believe he was killed by the same border policeman or one of his colleagues operating in a similar manner.

On November 23, 2014, the Israeli military indicted the border policeman they took into custody earlier that month for the manslaughter of Nadeem Nawara. Charges brought against Israel’s security personnel are extremely rare. The fact that there was a charge at all in this case is due to the existence of the videos. Yet despite the fact that there were cameras filming at the time of his death, no responsibility has been admitted in the killing of Abu Daher on that day. Based on our findings we support Siam Nawara’s (Nadeem’s father) claim for the border policeman to be charged with murder, and that Israeli public campaigns to exonerate the killer must be resisted. We also call for charges to be brought for the killing of Abu Daher.

EXPLORE

Distant analysis: Consider how the field of investigation is extrapolated from scant documentation: three photographs, a bird’s eye municipal plan, low-res security camera footage, a short news media broadcast, and the minute noises of a succession of bullets.

Research and praxis: How the investigation team turns to the expertise of Palestinians living under occupation, noting their acute discernment between and reaction to the sound of rubber coated bullets and live ammunition, despite the Israel Defense Forces’ attempts to disguise the latter.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Nakba Day Killings investigation on forensic-architecture.org <http://www.forensic-architecture.org/case/nakba-day-killngs/>

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KEY CONCEPTS

Forensis

The Latin adjective forensis originally meant “pertaining to the forum.” The forum was a busy place: among other things, a market, a meeting place, the place where the court convened. Cicero used the adjective forensis in a number of his speeches, and while this was often in the broader sense, as the general art of the forum, he seems at times to have used it in the more narrow, legal sense. In the Middle Ages the Flemish translator Willem van Moerbeke used “forensis” to translate the Greek adjective dikanikos which appears in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, and which literally means judicial. This was an unambiguously legal use of forensis, though restricted to the way lawyers plead. The English language only absorbed the Latin term in the form “forensic” in the seventeenth century. The original meaning—pertaining to the forum or court—persists into the early nineteenth century, when Carlyle speaks of “forensic eloquence.” Only in the mid-nineteenth century, during a time of great scientific development, did the term forensic become used to denote a legal-scientific investigation. The first instance of this modern meaning of forensic can be found in H. J. Stephen’s New Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in four volumes in 1844. Early in the introduction he states: “To gentlemen of the faculty of physic the study of the law is attended with some importance, not only to complete their character for general and extensive knowledge, a character which their profession has always remarkably deserved, but also to enable them to give more satisfactory evidence in a variety of cases in which they are liable to be examined as witnesses.”

Source: Forensic Architecture – Lexicon <http://www.forensic-architecture.org/lexiconentries/>

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Forensic Aesthetics

Forensic science has signified a shift in the communicative capacity and agency of things. This material approach is evident through the ubiquitous role technologies now play in determining contemporary ways of seeing and knowing. Today’s legal and political decisions are often based upon the capacity to read and present DNA samples, 3-D scans, nanotechnology, and the enhanced vision of electromagnetic microscopes and satellite surveillance, which extends from the topography of the seabed to the remnants of destroyed or bombed-out buildings. This is not just science, but rhetoric carrying considerable geopolitical, socioeconomic, environmental, scientific, and cultural implications. Forensic aesthetics is thus the mode of appearance of things in forums—the gestures, techniques, and technologies of demonstration, methods of theatricality, narrative, and dramatization; image enhancements and technologies of projection; the creation and demolition of reputation, credibility, and competence.

Source: Forensic Architecture – Lexicon <http://www.forensic-architecture.org/lexiconentries/>

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Counter-Forensics

1. A technical term in criminology referring to efforts designed to frustrate or prevent in advance the forensic-scientific investigation of physical or digital objects, including documents and photographs as well as bodies, soil, weapons or their residues, buildings, etc. An often-sophisticated operationalization of the dictum “leave no traces,” counter-forensic practices seek actively to block the deposition or collection of traces and/or to erase or destroy them before they can be acquired as evidence. 2. A term coined by the photographer and writer Allan Sekula to describe the deployment of forensic techniques, derived from police methods, by human rights investigators and their colleagues (including forensic anthropologists, photographers, and psychotherapists) in order to challenge oppressive regimes or respond to their aftermath. Sekula writes, referring principally to the work of Clyde Snow and Susan Meiselas in Kurdistan after the first Gulf War: “Counter forensics, the exhumation and identification of the anonymised (‘disappeared’) bodies of the oppressor state’s victims, becomes the key to a process of political resistance and mourning.”

Source: Forensic Architecture – Lexicon <http://www.forensic-architecture.org/lexiconentries/>

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Field Causality

Field causality relates to the field/forum division of Forensic Architecture. The field is not a distinct, stand-alone object, nor the neutral background on or against which human action takes place, but a dense fabric of lateral relations, associations, and chains of activity that mediates between the scales and material tendencies of large environments, individuals, and collective action. It overflows any map that seeks to frame it because there are always more connections and relations to be made in excess of its frame. Field causalities challenge contemporary epistemologies because they demand a shift in explanatory models and structures of causation. From such a perspective, the analysis of armed conflict can no longer conform to the model of criminal law that seeks to trace a direct line of causation between the two limit figures of victim and perpetrator. Establishing field causalities requires the examination of force fields and causal ecologies that are nonlinear, diffused, operate simultaneously, and involve multiple agencies and feedback loops. Whereas linear causality focuses on temporal sequenced events, field causality involves the arrangement of causes in a set of spatial relations with one another.

Source: Forensic Architecture – Lexicon <http://www.forensic-architecture.org/lexiconentries/>

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