Forensic Architecture − Online Screening and Conversation

12. February 2021, 19:00

On the occasion of Mario Pfeifer’s solo presentation Negotiating the Law at the Edith-Russ-Haus, please join us for an online screening and conversation between the artist and Robert Trafford of Forensic Architecture (FA). 

Pfeifer and Trafford's conversation will follow the screening of projects by FA and focus on their shared interest in how forensic methodologies can enhance art institutions not just in picturing and investigating human right abuses but also in opening them up as discursive spaces for civil engagement and discussion about these violations.

Forensic Architecture (FA) is a research agency, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, investigating human rights violations including violence committed by states, police forces, militaries, and corporations. FA works in partnership with institutions across civil society, from grassroots activists, to legal teams, to international NGOs and media organisations, to carry out investigations with and on behalf of communities and individuals affected by conflict, police brutality, border regimes and environmental violence.

Robert Trafford’s role at Forensic Architecture involves open source research, data mining and analysis, as well as writing and editing for scripts and exhibitions, and occasional reporting. He is also a project coordinator. He completed an MA in Investigative Journalism at City, University of London in 2017, gaining a distinction. He previously studied Philosophy and Theology at Jesus College, University of Oxford, graduating with first class honours. Before joining Forensic Architecture, Robert was a freelance journalist, including reporting on the refugee crisis from France and Greece. His work has appeared in The Intercept, The Times, the Independent, and elsewhere.

Mario Pfeifer was the 2019 winner of the Lower Saxony Foundation’s scholarship for media art at the Edith-Russ-Haus. He was born in Dresden in 1981 and studied at the Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig, the University of the Arts, Berlin, the Städelschule ― Academy of Fine Arts,Frankfurt am Main and the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles. Pfeifer was a Fulbright and DAAD scholarship holder and artist-in-residence at the ISCP in New York, the Gasworks in London and the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris. Solo exhibitions: including 2020, Folkwang Museum Essen; 2019 The Power Plant, Toronto; 2019 Pylon Lab, Dresden; 2018 Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz; 2016 GfZK Leipzig; 2016 ACUD, Berlin; 2015 Fotomuseum Winterthur; 2015 Ludlow38, New York. Group exhibitions: among others 10th Berlin Biennale; 11° Bienal do Mercosul, Kunsthalle Dusseldorf; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein; KunstWerke Berlin; Städelmuseum Frankfurt am Main. —

Negotiating the Law in the Edith-Russ-Haus

The starting point of this exhibition by the German video artist and filmmaker Mario Pfeifer is the multimedia installation and performance Zelle 5 − 800° Celsius: Act 1–2. It concerns the troubling case of Oury Jalloh, an asylum seeker from Sierra Leone who, in 2005, burned to death in detention cell 5 at the Dessau-Roßlau police station. Jalloh’s case has been intensely discussed in the courts as well as in the media. Pfeifer’s work, with its artistic examination of forensic material and court documents related to the case, is conceived as a platform that poses basic questions about the interpretation of images as evidence, about legal language, and about power and powerlessness.

Zelle 5 − 800° Celsius: Act 1 is an installation in three rooms, the first of which is devoted to the central piece of evidence: an ordinary cigarette lighter. The second room deals with the numerous expert opinions that have attempted to shed light on individual aspects of what happened the night of Jalloh’s death. For the third room, the artist has invited the group Break the Silence, an initiative in remembrance of Jalloh, to document their decade-long struggle to solve the case.

Zelle 5 − 800° Celsius: Act 2 is a performance that will take in 2021 with the collaboration of actors who will read transcripts of original court proceeding at the Edith-Russ-Haus accompanied by live footages from demonstrations.

The exhibition, which also includes Pfeifer’s pieces Again (2018) and #blacktivist (2015), encourages the public to take a stand on issues concerning violence, structural racism, and civil courage.

Artist: Mario Pfeifer