Art and Law: Objects and Spaces as Legal Actors

Day: Saturday 8 April

Jack Hartnell (University of East Anglia)
Kevin Lotery (Sarah Lawrence College, New York)

Session Abstract

This session considers the intersections between visualculture and the law. Art history has long investigated the role of the law, from issues of visual evidence and legal aesthetics to ideas of artistic originality and authorship. But recent scholarship has increasingly drawn attention to the ways in which art can participate in the law’s actual operation. This session aims to broaden these investigations along historical and disciplinary lines by tracing the long history of artistic intrusions into legal life, focusing on moments when art and architecture, broadly defined, have functioned as legal actors in their own right.

How have aesthetic objects past and present actively shaped the production and execution of the law as witnesses or juridical subjects in themselves? How have artists approached the courtroom as a site of artistic production and intervention? And in what ways has aesthetic production sought to short-circuit legal structures or forward alternative, even utopian, legal systems?

Speakers and Papers

Legal Architectures

Matthew Wells
(Victoria & Albert Museum / Royal College of Art) Architectural Models as Evidence and Actors in the 19th Century

Olga Touloumi
(Bard College) Building the Case, c1945

Affect and the Courtroom

Daniel Zolli (The Pennsylvania State University) Bell on Trial: Legal authority, agency, and exile in the ‘Piagnona’ of San Marco

Lela Graybill (University of Utah) The Forensic Eye and the Public Mind: The Bertillon system of crime scene photography

Law and Borderlines

Elsje van Kessel (University of St Andrews) Legal Agency, Asian material culture, and the freedom of the seas c1600
Stacey Vorster (University of the Witwatersrand / University of Amsterdam) Rehabilitating Images of Justice in Post- Apartheid South Africa

Johanna Gosse (University of Colorado, Boulder) Border Land Art: Social practice as transborder legal action in postcommodity’s Repellent Fence (2015)

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