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Robert Trafford: “Forensic Architecture: Art and Activism Against State Violence”

Monday, February 26 at 4:00pm

Lawrence Hall, 115
1190 Franklin Boulevard, Eugene, OR

University of Oregon Visiting Artist Lecture Series
Presented by the Department of Art and Center for Art Research

Since 2011, the Forensic Architecture (FA) research agency has investigated state violence and human rights violations around the world, contributing to a new understanding of the possibility for investigative practices in civil society, merging aesthetic sensibilities, investigative reporting, activism, and innovative digital technologies towards a unique approach to challenging crimes and cover-ups by states, militaries, and police. Following the group’s contribution to a newly-opened exhibition at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) in Portland in February, Robert Trafford will begin from the investigations presented in that show -- addressing violence by police and right-wing extremists in the context of racial justice protests in the city -- to discuss how the agency’s work from the courtroom to the gallery, the strengths and challenges of their ‘counter-forensic’ method, and its place within contemporary social, technological, and political conditions. 

Robert Trafford is journalist by training, and an assistant director with Forensic Architecture, a human rights research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, with whom he has worked since 2017. There, he leads investigative research projects, writes and edits for exhibitions and publications, and supports other team members to bring investigations to publication, and to think about how their research can be activated across a range of forums in pursuit of accountability. His work with Forensic Architecture has covered the extrajudicial killing of civilians by Cameroon’s special forces, chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime, and counter-protest violence by US police. He has jointly led investigations into the 2020 right-wing terror attack in Hanau, Germany, the 2011 killing of Mark Duggan by London’s police, and the agency’s acclaimed TRIPLE-CHASER investigation, which premiered at the 2019 Whitney Biennial in New York.

This lecture is part of the “Policing Justice Lecture Series” co-presented by the Department of Art and the Department of the History of Art and Architecture and co-sponsored in part by the Oregon Humanities Center Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, and The Mark Sponenburgh Endowment.

Lectures are also live streamed and the videos are archived on YouTube.