On June 30th in Venice: “Forensic Aesthetics,” a lecture by Eyal Weizman.
The last decades of the twentieth century, often referred to as ‘the era of the witness’, were saturated with representation of testimonies of trauma—written, recorded, filmed archived and exhibited. This primacy of trauma as a site of history also leads to a depoliticised ‘politics of compassion’ apparent in the forums of transitional justice, truth commissions, human rights and humanitarianism. However, a recent shift of emphasis from human testimony to material forensics means that science has begun invading some of the legal and cultural grounds previously reserved for the speech of humans. Potentially, therefore, at its most extreme, new ways of using forensic science have blurred a previously held distinction: between evidence, when the law speaks of objects, and that of the witness, referring to subjects. Such shift has aesthetic, political and ethical implications, dangers and potentials that will be unpacked in this lecture.