Saturday, 13 June 2015

Seminar on illicit images

I can draw this seminar without incurring a criminal record. Unlike in a court - the Supreme Court excepted - where it's illegal to draw (section 41, Criminal Justice Act 1925). The court sketches you see in the newspapers have to be done from memory. Meanwhile, people tweet goodness-knows-what defamation and contempt from the public seats.

Professor Linda Mulcahy, Department of Law, London School of Economics reads Economies of illicit images: understanding the ban on photography in English courts. 

She shows courtroom photos snatched from odd angles. Dr Crippen and Ethel Le Neve in the dock. Poisoner Frederick Seddon being sentenced to death in 1912. Early courtroom paparazzi had top hats on their laps with a hole in and a camera inside. They coughed to cover the sound of the shutter. This reminds me of the time I had to skewer someone's bollocks for taking illicit photos in life class.

Professor Leslie J. Moran, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, reads Televising the judicial ‘money shot’: making and managing screen images of judges delivering their judgments. Baroness Hale's spectacle case is caught on video, colourful and folklorique among clean curves of pale wood in the Supreme Court.

From Australia we have Dr Peter Doyle, curator of the exhibitions Suburban Noir, City of Shadows and Crimes of Passion, drawn from the Forensic Photography Archive at Sydney's Justice and Police Museum; associate professor of media at Macquarie University. His paper, Ways of looking, limits of seeing: displaying the forensic photograph is all Hitchcock, sinister banality. Bloodstains on a café floor.

Professor Katherine Biber, University of Technology Sydney, Australia, Visiting Scholar at Birkbeck School of Law, Visiting Fellow, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies reads Redacted readymades: art from bureaucratic secrets. Creative crossings-out, the art of absence. Lacunae. Black holes, punched in images deemed unfit to be shown, become part of the composition.

The chairman is Dr Thomas Giddens, St Mary’s University, Twickenham. The event is organised by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in collaboration with Birkbeck. The redacted images in my current exhibition in Oslo are under the counter in the gallery.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Exhibition at VI, VII in Oslo

He said, 'Mankind have a strong attachment to the habitations to which they have been accustomed. You see the inhabitants of Norway do not with one consent quit it, and go to  some part of America, where there is a mild climate, and where they may have the same produce from land, with the tenth part of the labour. No, Sir; their affection for their old dwellings, and the terrour of a general change, keep them at home. Thus, we see many of the finest spots in the world thinly inhabited, and many rugged spots well inhabited.' 

I'm travelling with Dr Johnson, tempered by the emollient Boswell.

Nowadays, Americans go to Norway. Esperanza Rosales forsook Brooklyn for Oslo where she set up an art gallery. It's called VI, VII and pronounced 'sixes and sevens' in a sort of reverse Featherstonehaugh.

Another import, Richard Bowers, is a Sinatra-style crooner from Taunton, now settled in Oslo where his Greek girlfriend runs a restaurant.

It's egalitarian here. 'They don't say "please",' Richard confides. 'They don't need to. Vær så snill. I learned it but I never use it.'

'Publick practice of any art, (he observed,) and staring in men's faces, is very indelicate in a female.'

But I've got permission to draw in the Supreme Court of Norway so off I go - see here.

Much enquiry having been made concerning a gentleman, who had quitted a company where Johnson was, and no information being obtained; at last Johnson observed, that "he did not care to speak ill of any man behind his back, but he believed the gentleman was an attorney."

Oh for God's sake.

The exhibition Back to Life shows my drawings of the progress of The Violet Crab, a cabaret-themed exhibition by Than Hussein Clark at the David Roberts Art Foundation in London which I've blogged about here (there's more than one post so please scroll down).

The Oslo gallery VI, VII is at Tordenskiolds gate 12; please check opening times online; closes 17 July.

The dancer in the pictures is Ayumi LaNoire.

More pictures if you scroll down.

My drawing of photographer Josh Redman - not his photos

Oslo shop window

A tourist in the Supreme Court of Norway/Norges Høyesterett

A discreet tip-tapping like a mouse behind the wainscot, then the justices file in. In London an usher would holler to disturb our reverie, but this is low-key, egalitarian Norway, the country ranked top in the Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. 

I'm here as a non-Norwegian-speaking tourist. There are just a few observers - mainly students, I think - composing a curtain of blonde. Five justices, the normal number here although some appeals are heard by more. Two advocates. A soothing narrative style.

No legal teams. Robes all round. No wigs. Sparse court staff. No back wall of judicial assistants. No microphones. No Apple logos.

There is no Latin, but plenty of English is being quoted in A mot Den offentlige påtalemyndighet. Sounds like - not sure - the Antarctic Treaty. The case examines a judgment regarding a crime against the Antarctic environment. The French appear to be involved.

In London we are mollycoddled with informative case hand-outs, including a seating plan for the bench, but I have nothing to go on here. 

Advocate alone
There are a few five-minute breaks built in to proceedings. At one point, the only person left in the courtroom is the advocate who has been on his feet, full of adrenaline, pacing, wanting to press on.

After the hearing he is photographed and interviewed in the courtroom by a journalist. This would not happen at home: that's what the pavement is for.

Advocate being photographed

The way out of the courtroom takes you through a smaller room with a wash-basin in it. I am struck by this intrusion of the personal. You could enact some Ibsenesque renunciation or off-stage suicide here.
I wander upstairs, past a kitchenette, to a civil case. It concerns a difference of opinion between the government and a psychologist about official payments and beyond that I am lost. 

I was in Oslo for my exhibition (blog post here) at the gallery called VI, VII and pronounced sixes and sevens (Tordenskiolds gate 12, entrance in Otto Sverdrups gate) until 28 June. Please check online for opening times.