• Counter Investigations: Forensic Architecture
    Richard Birkett
    Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
    Mar 07, 2018 to May 13, 2018
    Institute of Contemporary Arts

Forensic Architecture, a composite image merges news footage of a home destroyed in a drone strike on Miranshah, North Waziristan, Pakistan together with Forensic Architecture’s 3D modelling. Shadow analysis was used to corroborate the approximate time (15:00) the video was shot, 2016, London. Courtesy of Forensic Architecture.

Grounded in the use of architecture as an analytic device, Forensic Architecture has in recent years developed new evidentiary methods that respond to our changing media landscape—exemplified in the widespread availability of digital recording equipment, satellite imaging, and platforms for data sharing—and propose new modes of citizen-led evidence gathering. Forensic Architecture has worked closely with communities affected by acts of social and political violence, alongside NGOs, activist groups, and media organizations. Their investigations have provided decisive evidence in a number of legal cases, and contested accounts given by state authorities, leading to military, parliamentary and UN inquiries. Counter Investigations presents a selection of investigations into incidents occurring in different contexts worldwide. In parallel, the exhibition outlines five key concepts that raise related historical, theoretical, and technological questions. Explored in an accompanying series of public seminars, these investigations and propositions add up to a short course in Forensic Architecture.

Forensic Architecture was established by architect and theorist Eyal Weizman in 2010. Team members of the agency include filmmakers, architects, journalists, designers, artists, scientists, and lawyers. Project coordinators and researchers have included Susan Schuppli, Lorenzo Pezzani and Charles Heller, Christina Varvia, Francesco Sebregondi and Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Weizman is the director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London and has authored books including Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability (Zone, 2017), The Conflict Shoreline (Steidl and Cabinet, 2015), Mengele’s Skull (Sternberg, 2012), The Least of all Possible Evils (Verso, 2011), and Hollow Land (Verso, 2007).

Richard Birkett, chief curator at the ICA, is the curator of the exhibition. Birkett joined the organization in 2017, after holding curatorial positions at Yale Union in Portland, Oregon (2016–17) and at Artists Space, New York (2010–16) where he curated an acclaimed series of exhibitions, including projects with Hito Steyerl, Bernadette Corporation, Cameron Rowland, Laura Poitras, Aaron Flint Jamison, and Union Gaucha Productions.

Established in 1946, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA London) invented a global iconic model, becoming the first Institute of Contemporary Arts. It has always been outspoken, pioneering new forms of practice across disciplines and contextualising contemporary culture within the socio-political conditions of its time. Today, through a vibrant and acclaimed programme of exhibitions, films, talks and events, the ICA continues to engage new generations of theorists, practitioners and audiences alike to unleash groundbreaking productions and visionary thinking.