Violent Legalities

Violent Legalities cartographically chronologizes three interrelated projects. Each aims to spatialise relationships between legislative activity and occurrences of violence to inspect enduring trends between settler-colonialism law-making processes and state policies in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Contributors: Fraser Crichton, Mariachiara Ficarelli, Lachlan Kermode, Bhaveeka Madagammana, Davide Mangano, and Karamia Müller

Project Description

In the wake of the March 2019 Christchurch shootings, the contributors of Violent Legalities came together to better understand how such violences manifests, and how as a research community we may respond to violence such as the Christchurch shootings as an engaged researchers, foregrounding the voices of lesser-heard communities?

The shootings often framed as an exceptional instance, are in fact, they are the latest articulation of a longer history of white supremacy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Since November 2019, we have examined the legal documents that index the state’s response to struggles for non-Pākehā communities’ rights. Instead of seeing increasing recognition of these communities as part of Aotearoa/New Zealand, we found an unfolding history of conflicting worldviews. The legal jargon and length can hide the power of these documents. They are in fact violent legalities. The justification for this exhibition title. Violent Legalities marks a research milestone in an interdisciplinary project that brings together contributors spanning the fields of anthropology, architecture, art and open-source software.

The project is a research collaboration initiated by academic Karamia Müller, Lecturer at the School of Architecture and Planning, Creative Arts and Industries, University of Auckland and London-Boston based New Zealander Lachlan Kermode, at software lead at London based human rights agency Forensic Architecture (FA), in Goldsmiths University. Violent Legalities introduces 3 interactive maps developed by Crichton, Ficarelli, Kermode, Magdamanna and Müller to visualise events violations and their related legislative activity that have occurred in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

TimeMap: an interactive open-source cartographic platform developed by FA was further developed to show the material impact of the passing of legislation, we developed a new TimeMap feature to display “non-located” events as bars in the timeline. Legislative events give context to located events, as they are markers of the official response to actions on the ground. Our instance of Time-map allows users to move forward and backward across Aotearoa/New Zealand time and space, exploring 537 incidents and events, supported by hundreds of sources. Each event on the platform represents an occurrence that is distinct in either time, space, or both.

The exhibition serves to both launch the software and create a forum to build upon the researchers’ initial findings through a series of public discussions facilitated throughout the show. Primarily that events such as Christchurch is in fact a reflection of long-standing law-making practice since colonisation.


Artist Bios

Project Coordinator: Karamia Müller is a Pacific academic specialising in Pacific space concepts. Currently a Lecturer at the School of Architecture and Planning, Creative Arts and Industries, University of Auckland, her research specialises in the meaningful ‘indigenisation’ of design methodologies invested in building futures resistant to inequality.

Software Development: Lachlan Kermode develops full stack architectures and manages machine learning workflows across a range of Forensic Architecture’s investigations. He has a degree in Computer Science from Princeton University, and a range of experience both in industry and as a full stack freelancer.

Research: Fraser Crichton is a Pōneke/Wellington based visual artist who graduated from the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Masters at University of Arts London in 2019. His research-based practice incorporates investigative journalism, data-visualisation, video, archival imagery, still photography, and community based participatory photography projects. Fraser’s work examines the power of the state in the context of social reform and the criminal justice system. @frasercrichton

Research: Bhaveeka Madagammana is currently completing a Masters of Architecture (Professional) at the School of Architecture and Planning, Creative Arts and Industries, University of Auckland.

Video Editing & Design: Mariachiara Ficarelli is a cultural anthropologist, and filmmaker. Her research interests include contemporary fascist movements and the arms trade, as well as the potential for open-source research in ethnographic methodology. Her research interests include contemporary fascist movements and the potential for open-source research in ethnographic methodology.

Animation: Davide Mangano is a computer graphics generalist with a bachelor’s degree in CG animation from the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan. He has specialized in 3D environments for both real-time and rendered projects.