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Exhibit A: Notes on a Forensic Turn in Contemporary Art

William James Herschel, Konai’s Hand, Bengal 1858 fromThe Origin of Finger Printing, 1916.
Charles Stankievech dissects the intertwined histories of forensics, ethics and aesthetics in relation to recent art practice. As part of the ‘FORENSIS’ exhibition at the arts centre Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin in March of 2014, curators Eyal Weizman and Anselm Franke organised a conference mainly composed not of voices from the art world but of lawyers, activists and forensic specialists. In the opening keynote with legal scholar Brenna Bhandar, first chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo endorsed the work in ‘FORENSIS’ as necessary means to present evidence in the controversial court proceedings in which he participated. But in endorsing the work he also called it ‘packaging’ – a term Thomas Keenan, the moderator of the talk and author of Forensic Aesthetics, took issue with, instead suggesting he might have meant ‘aesthetics’.