A presentation of case studies pitting truth against legal procedure

What is law, and how does it function? How are its rules written, interpreted, and implemented across different contexts? Moreover, what is really at stake when we say a case is lost or won? In parallel to the exhibition The Crime Was Almost Perfect, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art presents a presentation of case studies that seeks to understand how legal procedures either facilitate or complicate normative notions of what is just. To this end, Cui Bono? (To whose benefit?) broadens the investigation of law through a set of interpretative artist projects that tackle the law as their subject, and a series of keynote lectures by scholars and law professionals.


2 – 2:10pm
Welcome by Defne Ayas (Director, Witte de With)

2:10 – 2:50pm
Keynote: What is law?
Starting from the questions ‘What is law?’and ‘What is law that I should obey it?’ Jeanne Gaakeer (Professor of Legal Theory, School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Justice in the Appellate Court of The Hague) presents a short history of ideas around the evolution of law in a European cultural context, from ancient Greece to the present day, addressing, first, topics such as the substitution of law for the violence of revenge, justice’s iconography, and secondly, the development of law in Europe as a process from unity to diversity, and its implications for interdisciplinary co-operations. Special attention will be paid to the historical bond between law and the arts in Europe.

2:50 – 3:05pm
Interpretation: ‘law intensity reports’
Franck Leibovici (artist and poet, Paris) teamed up with Julien Seroussi (analyst, International Crime Unit, Ministry of Justice, Paris) during a trial at the International Criminal Court, in order to outline the interplay between witnesses, evidence, facts, and legal characterization.

3:05 – 3:25pm
Eyal Weizman: On Forensis
Weizman (Architect, Professor of Visual Cultures and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, London) comments on the problem of holes—non matter—that has haunted the field of forensics. How to detect and verify an absence? Entry holes of guns through bodies and skulls, holes in roofs left by drone-fired missiles, the hole in the ozone… But as Bergson teaches us, a hole is more not less information than the matter it perforated because it is both matter and its absence.

<<3.25 – 3:45pm Break>>

3:45 – 4.35pm
Screening: Resolution 978 HD (HD video, 35’, Finland/UK, 2013), introduced by Florian Cramer (Research Professor for New Media and Art Media at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam)
This film by Model Court, a group of artists and researchers at the Forensics Architecture Department, Goldsmiths University, London, opens a discussion on the political and legal impact of new media technologies in the process of justice.

Resolution 978 HD by Model Court is currently on view at Stroom den Haag, within the exhibition Model Court: An Ecology of the Courtroom, as part of See You In The Hague. More information here.

4:35 – 4:55pm
Interpretation: X&Y vs. France: The Case of a Legal Precedent (2009–2014)
In conversation with Virginie Bobin (Assistant Curator, Witte de With), artists Patrick Bernier and Olive Martin recall a series of past works where art enters into friction with law. In particular, the discussion will focus on the artists’ collaboration with lawyers Sylvia Preuss-Laussinotte and Sébastien Canevet on a performance that applies the tools of intellectual property law in order to challenge the field of immigration law. A performance of X&Y vs. France: The Case of a Legal Precedent is held at Erasmus University on 28 March at 5 p.m.

4:55 – 5.15pm
Plenary moderated by Virginie Bobin

5.15 – 5:45pm
Q&A with the audience


Cui Bono? is organized by Virginie Bobin (Assistant Curator, Witte de With) in close conversation with Defne Ayas (Director, Witte de With) and Adam kleinman (Chief Editor, WdW Review).

Organized in collaboration with the Erasmus School of Law, the Center for Art, Law and Innovation at Erasmus University and the Students Law Association.

Witte de With would like to thank Jeanne Gaakeer (Professor of Legal Theory, School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and justice in the Appellate Court of The Hague), Helen Stout and Farshida Zafar (Center for Art, Law and Innovation), Jeanne Beck (Students Law Association) and the Erasmus Trustfonds.

The program is supported by Institut Français, Sjöcrona Van Stigt Advocaten, Erasmus Trustfonds and Erasmus Stichting.