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Forensic Oceanography

Aesthetic Borders: Of Violence and (in)Visibility at Sea

  • TUE - SUN
    22/05 > 31/07
    11 am - 7 pm

    01/08 > 21/11
    10 am - 6 pm
  • Central Pavilion
  • Admission with ticket

Charles Heller (Swiss, b.1981) and Lorenzo Pezzani (Italian, b.1982) of Forensic Oceanography (UK, est.2011), in collaboration with Forensic Architecture (UK, est.2010)



Aesthetic Borders: Of Violence and (in)Visibility at Sea presents two investigations presented here, “The Crime of Rescue” and “Mare Clausum,” that engage with the momentous shift that occurred in the Mediterranean in 2015, when nongovernmental organizations started to conduct search and rescue operations in reaction to the persisting death of migrants and state authorities’ inaction. While the critical presence of NGOs has invaluably enhanced the ability to monitor border violence at sea, it has also brought new dilemmas to the fore. As the investigations reveal, the sudden flooding of images they have generated has been used not only to demand accountability for that violence, but also to criminalize and discredit their own work. Moreover, revealing border violence can have ambivalent effects, such as reproducing racialized imaginaries of black and brown bodies upon which the very closure of EU borders is predicated. By critically analyzing the shifting aesthetic regime operating at the Mediterranean frontier, the installation seeks to confront and unravel some of these ethical and political dilemmas, dwelling upon the challenges of representing violence.


Borderline Europe
the Economic and Social Research Council
Goldsmiths, University of London
the House of World Cultures
the Republic and Canton of Geneva
the Swiss National Science Foundation
the WatchTheMed platform
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

Production credits

Forensic Oceanography is a project of Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani initiated within the Forensic Architecture agency at Goldsmiths, University of London

Video Screenings
Forensic Oceanography and Forensic Architettura, The Crime of Rescue— The Iuventa Case (2018, 33’)
Project Team Forensic Oceanography: Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, Rossana Padaletti, Richard Limeburner
Project Team Forensic Architettura: Nathan Su, Christina Varvia, Eyal Weizman, Grace Quah
Produced with the Support of: Borderline Europe, the WatchTheMed platform and Transmediale

Forensic Oceanography and Forensic Architettura, Mare Clausum—The Sea Watch vs Libyan Coast Guard Case (2018, 28’)
Project Team Forensic Oceanography: Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, Rossana Padeletti
Project Team Forensic Architettura: Stefan Laxness, Stefanos Levidis, Grace Quah, Nathan Su, Samaneh Moafi, Christina Varvia, Eyal Weizman
Produced with the Support of: the WatchTheMed platform, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Republic and Canton of Geneva ARCHIVE
Forensic Oceanography, Mare Clausum: Italy e the EU’s undeclared operation to stem migration across the Mediterranean (2018)

Forensic Oceanography, Interview with a survivor of the Sea Watch vs Libyan Coast Guard Case (2019, 28’)
Project Team: Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, Violeta Y. Mayoral, Laure Vermeersch

Forensic Oceanography, Blaming the Rescuers: Criminalising Solidarity, (Re)enforcing Deterrence (2017)

Forensic Oceanography, Interview with Iuventa rescuer Laura Martin (2019, 13’)
Project Team: Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, Laure Vermeersch

Central Pavilion
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Biennale Architettura
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