Forensic Architecture is an international research agency that uses innovative technological and architectural processes to investigate allegations of state and corporate violence. Its members include architects, archaeologists, artists, filmmakers, journalists, lawyers, scientists, software developers and theorists.
The agency collaborates with organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations. Forensic Architecture practices what it refers to as ‘counter forensics’.
It asks citizens to gather evidence using open-source software and utilises technologies such as digital mapping and 3D modelling. These techniques are used alongside traditional research methods such as witness testimony. This material is then presented in different forums, such as courtrooms, parliamentary inquiries, in the media, in books and increasingly in exhibitions.
For the Turner Prize, Forensic Architecture returns to cases related to the Bedouin communities of the Negev/Naqab desert in southern Israel. Together with members of the photographic collective Activestills, Forensic Architecture attempts to unravel official statements about the events of 18 January 2017, when an attempt by police to clear an unrecognised Bedouin village resulted in the deaths of two people.
Forensic Architecture uses video, photographs, scale models, text and reproductions of tweets and social media content to extend across different time scales: the few seconds of the incident, the months-long process of investigation, and the decades-long history of the region.
As a key part of its work, Forensic Architecture organises workshops in which the public can learn about the ideas and techniques employed by the agency. Details of these free seminars are listed in their exhibition.
Naeem Mohaiemen’s films and installations weave together archives, photographs and interviews. He explores ideas of hope and loneliness, focusing on countries freed from colonial rule. Mohaiemen often centres his work on the place he grew up – a country once part of British India, then known as East Pakistan, and now Bangladesh.
For the Turner Prize, Mohaiemen presents three works. Two Meetings and a Funeral is a three-screen film, centring on the power struggle between the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
NAM was formed after the Second World War by developing countries seeking independence from both US and Soviet influence. The film reconstructs two meetings, NAM in 1973 and OIC in 1974. It illustrates a moment when some member countries turned away from socialism and to religion as a uniting force.
Tripoli Cancelled is Mohaiemen’s first fiction film. It follows the daily routine of a man who has lived alone in an abandoned airport for a decade. The script was inspired by Mohaiemen’s father, who was stranded in Athens airport for nine days in 1977 after he lost his passport. The film reflects on the isolation of modern life, and the ways we find hope through the stories we tell ourselves and our loved ones.
Volume Eleven (flaw in the algorithm of cosmopolitanism) is a concertina book, combining closeups of a single volume with typewritten pages. The text tells a story in the life of Mohaiemen’s great uncle, the Bengali author Syed Mujtaba Ali. Along with Indian nationalist leaders such as Subhas Chandra Bose, Ali hoped that the German army during the Second World War would liberate India from British colonial rule.
Charlotte Prodger works with video, the printed image, sculpture and writing. She explores the ways identity can shift and change, particularly from a queer perspective.
Having used moving image for over 20 years, Prodger’s work has evolved through multiple recording formats, from audio tape to the smart phone. She explores how the limits of each format define her content. Prodger is increasingly using her mobile phone to make work. The length of a single shot often depends on the storage capacity of her phone, and even when held still, it records the tiny, unconscious movements of her body.
Prodger says filming with this small, hand-held device enables moments of solitude, ‘so that I can be alone when I’m filming – without the interpersonal logistics of working with a crew. For me, it’s primarily about privacy’. For the Turner Prize, Prodger presents BRIDGIT, her most autobiographical work to date, shot on an iPhone over the course of a year. It is made up of footage of the Scottish Highlands as well as shots from inside Prodger’s home. Sounds from her immediate environment are overlaid with a narration read by the artist and her friends. This is taken from Prodger’s diaries, correspondence with friends and extracts from books. The artist considers these to form part of a historical framework of knowledge, experience and solidarity that has shaped her own queer identity.
The video’s title comes from the Neolithic deity Bridgit, whose name and associations have altered over time across different locations. Relics of Neolithic humanity are particularly potent in the part of rural Scotland where Prodger grew up. Drawing links between the ancient and the modern, BRIDGIT explores the ways in which fragments of history are folded into everyday life.
Luke Willis Thompson
Luke Willis Thompson works across film, performance and installation. His films examine the relationship between a person and their representation.
For the Turner Prize, Thompson presents a trilogy of works on 35mm film: Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries, autoportrait and _Human. In these three films, Thompson reframes histories of violence enacted against certain bodies, and offers counter-images to the media spectacle of our digital age.
The artist has provided selected information on each film inside the exhibition.