Liquid Violence

    23/05  | 12:00 - 19:00
    24/05  | 12:00 - 19:00
    25/05  | 12:00 - 19:00
    26/05  | 12:00 - 19:00
    27/05  | 12:00 - 19:00
    28/05  | 12:00 - 19:00
    29/05  | 12:00 - 19:00
    30/05  | 12:00 - 19:00
    31/05  | 12:00 - 19:00
    01/06  | 12:00 - 19:00

€ 6
± 45 min
EN > FR

Admission tickets will also be sold at the venue, when the installation is open

Since 2011 Forensic Oceanography has been investigating the spatial conditions of the Mediterranean as a border zone, policies of (non-)assistance at sea, and their consequences for the lives of migrants. The multi-screen installation presented in Brussels, Liquid Violence, brings together three recent cases that were widely covered in the press: a boat abandoned at sea during NATO’s 2011 military intervention in Libya, and two reconstructions of the effects of the decision by Italy and the EU to cut back search and rescue activities at sea. For the three cases, the Forensic Oceanography team has undertaken impressive work acquiring videos, data and sound. While affecting us with its unprecedented accuracy, the work challenges the recent narrative that has been criminalising the rescue activities of NGOs and supporting Libyan actions to prevent and intercept departures. By referring to the aesthetics of the control rooms, the space of Liquid Violence raises a question about what should be monitored and invites you to not look away.

See also: Talk: The Mediterranean Forum: Violence and Solidarity Across Land and Sea
23/05 – 18:00
EN, free entrance
With: Charles Heller, Mamadou Bah, Nora El Qadim and Carine Thibaut

Forensic Oceanography is a project of Lorenzo Pezzani and Charles Heller and part of the Forensic Architecture agency (Directed by Eyal Weizman) at Goldsmiths (University of London) 
Presentation: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Nine One

Forensic Oceanography, Liquid Traces – The Left-to-die Boat Case (2014, 17 min)
Project team: Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, Richard Limeburner, Samaneh Moafi, Rossana Padeletti
Produced within the frame of Forensic Architecture with the support of the House of World Cultures (HKW)
Surtitling: Babel Subtitling    

Forensic Oceanography, Death by Rescue – The EU’s Lethal Policies of Non-assistance (14 min, 2016)
Project team: Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, Richard Limeburner, Sabine Llewellyn, Samaneh Moafi, Rossana Padeletti, Laure Vermeersch
Produced within the ESRC funded Precarious Trajectories research project
Surtitling: Babel Subtitling 

Project team Forensic Oceanography: Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, Rossana Padaletti, Richard Limeburner
Project Team Forensic Architecture: Nathan Su, Christina Varvia, Eyal Weizman, Grace Quah
Produced with the support of Borderline Europe, the WatchTheMed platform and Transmediale Surtitling: Babel Subtitling 

Forensic Oceanography and Forensic Architecture, The Crime of Rescue – The Iuventa Case (2018, 33 min)
Project team Forensic Oceanography: Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, Rossana Padeletti
Project team Forensic Architecture: Stefan Laxness, Stefanos Levidis, Grace Quah, Nathan Su, Samaneh Moafi, Christina Varvia, Eyal Weizman
Produced with the support of the WatchTheMed platform, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Republic and Canton of Geneva
Surtitling: Babel Subtitling

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Liquid Violence

A video installation by Forensic Oceanography, a project led by Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani and based at Goldsmiths (University of London). 2011–ongoing.

Forensic Oceanography is a project initiated within the Forensic Architecture agency by Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani, in the wake of the Arab uprisings of 2011. It seeks to critically investigate the militarised border regime imposed by European states across the EU’s maritime frontier, analysing the political, spatial and aesthetic conditions that have turned the waters of the Mediterranean Sea into a deadly liquid for the illegalised migrants seeking to cross it. The more than 30.000 migrants who have died at and through the sea over the last 30 years are the victims of what Forensic Oceanography call “liquid violence”.

By combining human testimonies with traces left across the digital sensorium of the sea constituted by radars, satellite imagery and vessel tracking systems, Forensic Oceanography has mobilised surveillance means ‘against the grain’ to contest both the violence of borders and the regime of (in)visibility on which it is founded.

While the seas have been carved up into a complex jurisdictional space that allows states to extend their sovereign claims through police operations beyond the limits of their territory, but also to retract themselves from obligations, such as rescuing vessels in distress, Forensic Oceanography has sought to locate particular incidents within the legal architecture of the EU’s maritime frontier, so as to determine responsibility for them. Forensic Oceanography’s reports have served as the basis for several legal cases against European states.

Presented here are two video diptychs that are part of investigations undertaken by Forensic Oceanography concerning different phases in the evolving border regime since 2011. The first diptych is composed of Liquid Traces (2014), which charts the trajectory of a boat abandoned at sea during NATO’s 2011 military intervention in Libya; and Death by Rescue (2016), which reconstructs the lethal effects of the decision made by Italy and the EU to cut back search and rescue activities at sea. Both these videos exemplify the use of practices and policies of abandonment of migrants at sea so as to deter them from crossing. The second diptych brings together The Crime of Rescue (2018), which offers a counter-investigation of the accusations of collusion used to justify the seizure of the rescue NGO boat Iuventa, and Mare Clausum (2018), which reconstructs a confrontation event in which the Libyan coast guard attempted to intercept migrants while the rescue NGO Sea Watch sought to rescue them. These videos, both of which have been produced in collaboration with Forensic Architecture, point to the two entangled dimensions of the strategy currently implemented by Italy and the EU to seal off the central Mediterranean route: criminalising solidarity, and outsourcing border control to the Tripoli-based Libyan government and militias.

Each of these works seeks to analyse and contest a particular mode of border violence, all the while drawing a political anatomy of the fluctuating patterns of border control and (non-)assistance at sea, and their dramatic consequences for the lives of migrants. These broad trends are here summarized in a timeline. Forensic Oceanography’s in-depth reports as well as the testimonies of the survivors of shipwrecks that have served as the basis for research are also displayed as an archive. Taking place at the eve of the European elections, this installation makes visible the violence of European border policies.

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Charles Heller is a researcher and filmmaker whose work has a long-standing focus on the politics of migration. In 2015, he completed a Ph.D. in Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Graduate Institute, in Geneva, where is conducts research supported by the Swiss National Fund (SNF).

Lorenzo Pezzani is an architect and researcher. In 2015, he completed a Ph.D. in Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is currently Lecturer and leads the MA studio in Forensic Architecture. His work deals with the spatial politics and visual cultures of migration, with a particular focus on the geography of the ocean.

Working together since 2011, they co-founded the Forensic Oceanography project, that critically investigates the militarized border regime and the politics of migration in the Mediterranean Sea. Their collaborative work has generated human rights reports, academic articles as well as videos that have been exhibited internationally.

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