Automne 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016, 10am to 9pm

Thursday, November 17, 2016, 10am to 6pm 

Universität / Haute École
Haute Ecole d'Art et de Design
Susan Schuppli & Charles Heller
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Content description

The two days with Charles Heller and Susan Schuppli will provide participants with the possibility to learn about processes of trans-disciplinary research composed from knowledge of migration, visual cultures, activism, NGO-policies, paradoxes of jurisdiction, and the limits of the law. The presentations / readings / discussions / site-visit / recording-exercises will emphasise the need for trans-disciplinary environments and art-led experimentations as a necessary condition for developing research that has the potency of a politics of detection. Research is able to render visible that which remains invisible: slow violence, nuclearity, toxicity, climate change, lethal algorithms, deep time, militarization, and the inhuman long-durée of history. The session will ask: Why is it necessary to work on developing new visual/textual vocabularies that help us to detect slow violence — violence that operates outside of the law legitimised by dominant politics or that takes place in geological time exceeding human understanding? When can we speak of a ‘navigation-image’ with an operational capacity to articulate the constellation of amnesia and denial in relation to geo-liquidities, environmental rights, and the human condition?

In the framework of the transversal POOL.CH, the session corresponds to the CCC-Curriculum-related alliance with the Harun Farocki Institut that explores the notion of ‘navigation’ with the objective towards a new political understanding of image-regimes in the 21st century.


Charles Heller’s long-term collaboration with Lorenzo Pezzani instigated the foundation of the Forensic Oceanography research project that critically investigates the lethal effects of the militarized border regime and the politics of migration in the Mediterranean Sea, and in 2012 he co-founded WatchTheMed platform. In relation to the question of ‘navigation’ within the context of the migration in the Mediterranean Sea, he will open the debate to differentiate between route and trajectory, offer an analysis of the emergence and current mode of operation of the Mediterranean’s hiercharchised mobility regime, underlining the relation between the movement of merchant ships and the boats of illegalised migrants, and discuss the methodologies developed by the Forensic Oceanography project to account for the structural deaths of migrants at and through the sea. Susan Schuppli will introduce the concept of the ‘material witness’ as a form of research and proposition making that explores a dual condition: the ways in which matter carries evidence of events as well as they ways in which materials expose the event of evidence. How does that concept relate to highly distributed, non-linear events such as environmental pollutants and toxins. Her ongoing work as an artist and researcher investigates forms of articulation to aim to render visible “The spatial dispersal of contaminates and temporal latency of their material and biological effects, which may take years, even decades to emerge, has allowed global climate-change actors and states to operate with virtual impunity. Despite the radical and covert nature of nuclear materials, the unique signature and behaviour of radioactive isotopes allows their lethal traces to be tracked directly back to their source, re-connecting, in effect, the evidential links that planetary phenomena has seemingly torn asunder.” 

DAY ONE: Wednesday, November 16, 2016, 10am to 9pm

Boulevard Helvétique 9, 1205 Geneva, seminar room CCC, salle 27, 2nd floor

10am to 1pm: 

After an introduction of everyone around the table, Charles Heller and Susan Schuppli will speak about key-concerns in their work that both address questions around forensic-evidence, dispersed violence, and complex forms of causality for discussion with the group, moderated by Doreen Mende / Harun Farocki Institut. –– Preparations are needed by reading the texts as listed below.


1pm to 2pm: 



2pm to 4.30pm: 

Together with Charles and Susan, we will define and sharpen particular key-terms / key-questions towards an active working-protocol that will be useful for the next day. That part will make palpable the active linkages between theory and practice. We will end the afternoon with discussing the assignment for the site-visit during the next day. 


Public Seminar Navigating Turbulences




DAY TWO: Thursday, November 17, 2016, 10am to 6pm 

10am-12pm (location to be confirmed): 

The group will meet on a site in the city of Geneva. Location of the site will be confirmed / announced during the first day. Please bring your mobile phones, audio-recorders, note-books, pens and papers or any further kind of recording-device in order to trace / track / capture / observe and detail the technologies of migration / geo-liquidities / in Geneva.



Lunch (location to be confirmed)



Back at Boulevard Helvétique 9, 1205 Geneva, seminar room CCC, salle 27, 2nd floor. We will do a de-briefing from the visit to the site and collect observations / recordings / elements: How do the previously discussed key-concepts may relate or resonate for the participants’ observations? The participants will work in groups, and the session will end with a round of presentations by all groups.



Maribel Casas-Cortes, Sebastian Cobarrubias, Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani, Clashing Cartographies, Migrating Maps: Mapping and the Politics of Mobility at the External Borders of E.U.rope, An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 2016 (forthcoming)


Harun Farocki, “Phantom Image,” in public 29 New Localities, Centre for Fine Arts

York University, Toronto, 2004, pp.12–22.


Sandro Mezzadra, “What is at stake in the mobility of labor? Borders, Migration, Contemporary Capitalism,” in Migration, Mobility, & Displacement no 2 (1), University of Victoria, Canada, 2016, pp. 30–43.


Susan Schuppli, “Dirty Pictures,” Living Earth Field Notes from the Dark Ecology Project 2014-2016. Eds. Belina, Mirna and Arie Altena, Sonic Acts, Amsterdam, 2016, pp. 190–211,

(Further readings:





Charles Heller is a researcher and filmmaker based in Geneva whose work has a long-standing focus on the politics of migration within and at the borders of Europe. In 2011, he co-founded the Forensic Oceanography research project that critically investigates the lethal effects of the militarized border regime and the politics of migration in the Mediterranean Sea, and in 2012 they co-founded WatchTheMed platform. Heller's recent works include the "Liquid Traces" (2014) video, and the “Death by Rescue” (2016) report and video. Heller as been research fellow on the Forensic Architecture project of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is currently conducting a postdoctoral research supported by the Swiss National Fund (SNF). He was awarded a post-graduate diploma from CCC Research Master of HEAD – Genève in 2005.


Susan Schuppli is an artist and researcher based in London whose work examines material evidence from war and conflict to environmental disasters. Creative projects have been exhibited throughout Europe, Asia, Canada, and the US. She has published widely within the context of media and politics and is author of the forthcoming book, Material Witness (MIT Press). Schuppli is Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths and was previously a research fellow on the Forensic Architecture ERC project. She is a recipient of the ICP Infinity Award, 2016.


Harun Farocki Institut (HaFI), founded in 2015 in Berlin, is a non-profit organisation, that seeks to realise Farocki’s proposal in the shape of a platform for researching his visual and discursive practice and supporting new projects that engage with the past, present and the future of image cultures as forms of ‘visual literacy’ of the 21st century. 


A maximum of 20 participants will participate in the work session. Please write a short motivation statement due November 11, 2016 to who will provide also readings.  


The public conversation by Charles Heller and Susan Schuppli on November 16, 2016 at 7pm is obligatory for the participants of the work session while public and open to everyone :