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Visible Justice Research Hub

About the hub

Visible Justice is a transdisciplinary research collective based at University of the Arts London.

Formed in 2018, its purpose is to provide a platform for artists, activists, journalists, photographers, and human rights lawyers who work at the intersection of visual culture and social justice.

Through a series of symposia, publications, public art projects, and exhibitions, it aims to stimulate creative collaborations across professional lines and to deepen the discourse around questions of visuality, inclusivity, efficacy, and political voice.

Key activities

Symposia

Collective Imaging and Imagining was the inaugural symposium of the Visible Justice research collective and took place on Saturday, 27 October 2018 at London College of Communication.

This day-long series of talks and presentations looked at how cultural practices and the visual arts can create meaningful interventions within existing legal and political frameworks.

Speakers: Ellen De Wachter, Fred Ritchin, Maya Foa, David Birkin Helene Kazan, YorikoOtomo, Alison Drake, David Blandy, Jinnie Jefferies and Edmund Clark.
Special address: Sofia Karim and Salil Tripathi.
Moderator: Max Houghton.

Embodied Activism was the second symposium of the Visible Justice research collective and took place on Friday, 3 May 2019 at London College of Communication. It concluded LCC’s 2019 public programme, which comprised an exhibition, publication, roundtables, community workshops, and performances.

The symposium addressed issues of race and representation, stereotyping in the media, the reshaping of narratives, personal agency, and political voice.

Speakers: Clive James Nwonka, Khalid Abdalla, Poulomi Basu, Abd Doumany, Mariam Ghani, Sim Chi Yin, Maya Foa and Sultana Tafadar.
Moderators: David Birkin and Max Houghton.

Decoding the Gaze: Iconography and the Algorithm took place on Friday, 29 November 2019 at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. This one-day symposium explored the role of images in shaping how social justice movements are represented in today’s social media landscape.

Speakers: Omar Al-Ghazzi, Clare Farrell, Alexander Fefegha, Max Ferguson, Mariam Ghani, Shahla Ghobadi, Jorge Saavedra Utman, Funda Ustek-Spilda and Sampson Wong.
Moderators: Luisa Ulyett, David Birkin and Max Houghton.

Pattern Recognition took place virtually on Thursday, 21 January 2021 in collaboration with Professor Patricia J Williams and Amy Halliday, Director of CAMD at Northeastern University in Boston. This colloquium considered the multiple ways in which systems of law and governance interface with their publics.

Speakers: Gloria Sutton, Evan Selinger, Rahul Bhargava, Jennifer Gradecki, Marcel Top, Derek Curry, Zoetanya Sujon, Ari Ezra Waldman, and Ilya Vidrin.
Moderators: Patricia Williams, Amy Halliday, David Birkin and Max Houghton.

The New Frontierism: Technology, Ideology, Jurisdiction will take place in late 2021, hosted virtually at Northeastern University (forthcoming).

Exhibitions

Collective Imaging and Imagining, London College of Communication, October 2018

Exhibiting artists: Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, FF Gaiden (2017), David Birkin, Charade (2018), Edmund Clark, Oresteia (2017), Helene Kazan, Under Multiple Suns (2018)

Each work was produced in collaboration with an organisation or community, examining issues such as the use of drama therapy in a British prison, human rights litigation against abuses of UK state power, communities in the North of England affected by deindustrialization and defunding, and the contested histories that remain inscribed into the day-to-day materiality of the built environment in Lebanon.

Also exhibited were a series of black and white images by the photojournalist, educator, and activist Shahidul Alam, who was imprisoned in Bangladesh at the time. The work speaks to his unswerving commitment to freedom of speech and human rights.

Curated by Max Houghton and David Birkin.

Visible Justice - The Exhibition, London College of Communication, April 2019

Visible Justice investigated the role of media technologies and collaborative partnerships in relation to issues such as climate change, displacement and persecution of refugees, knife crime, torture and rendition, state power, incarceration and the death penalty.

Exhibiting artists and collaborative partners: postgraduate media school students, Reprieve, Plan B, the Refugee Journalism Project, David Birkin, David Blandy and Larry Achiampong, PoulomiBasu, Edmund Clark, Abd Doumany, Corinne Silva and Nathaniel White.

Curated by Max Houghton.

Infinitude, CAMD, Northeastern University, Boston MA, October 2021 – January 2022 (forthcoming)

Fuelled by libertarian ideologies of the super-rich, the surly bonds of earth can no longer constrain the ambition of private capital, nor conform to territorial legal jurisdictions. Plans for planetary and oceanic colonisation have expanded in tandem with military advances, creating new ways to dwell in, delineate, and dominate the universe: whether on Mars, in Charter Cities, or by Seasteading.

Though Ralph Waldo Emerson is heralded anew as the ur-philosopher of such self-realisation, his belief that ‘wild liberty develops iron conscience’ is often found wanting in the paradoxical ethnonationalist rhetoric of populist global leaders — and the free market individualism of their techno-kings — as they shape our new frontiers. Infinitude considers the legal, ethical, environmental, and aesthetic consequences of these exclusionary incursions into every aspect of our material and digital lives.

Group members

Throughout 2021, we are taking part in an ongoing collaboration with Northeastern University, Boston, MA.

  • Patricia J Williams, University Distinguished Professor of Law and Humanities, Northeastern University
  • Amy Halliday, Director of the Centre for the Arts and Curator of Gallery 360, Northeastern University

To join our network, contact Max Houghton: m.f.houghton@lcc.arts.ac.uk