Forensic Oceanography & Forensic Architecture / London, United Kingdom

The Crime of Rescue – The Iuventa Case

from July 05 to 1418.00-23.00

“Check your sources”
Popular Internet meme

I was born in Minsk when it was still part of the (pinky red) map of the Soviet Union. As I was growing up Belarus became an independent country followed by a surge of political freedom. A populist candidate then won the elections and the state gradually turned into a dictatorship. With each new change in the state ideology, the history books in my school were completely rewritten. I remember my teacher’s exasperation at the beginning of the school year when he had to let go of the narrative that the whole history of humanity for thousands of years has been an intentional struggle that naturally led to the victory of communist revolution. A few years later we received a completely new set of books. My teacher retired early.

Forensic Oceanography is a project of Lorenzo Pezzani and Charles Heller that examines the militarized border regime in the Mediterranean, analyzing the spatial and aesthetic conditions that have provoked more than 16,5000 deaths recorded at European maritime borders in the last twenty years. Combining testimonies of violations of human rights with digital technologies such as satellite imagery, ship location data, geospatial mapping and drift models, FO works to stimulate a debate on the policy of image production in the age of surveillance. Together with a vast network of NGOs, scientists, journalists and activist groups, since 2011 FO has produced a variety of maps, video animations, visualizations, reports on human rights and web sites in an effort to document the violence perpetrated against migrants at sea and call into question the regime of visibility imposed by the surveillance tools in this contested area.
On 2 August 2017, the ship Iuventa was seized by the Italian judiciary. Its operators, members of the German NGO Jugend Rettet, were accused of colluding with smugglers and ‘assistance with illegal migration’. Forensic Architecture (FA) and Forensic Oceanography (FO) worked together to examine the accounts of those events presented by Italian authorities. The seizing of the Iuventa is emblematic of a new attempt by European authorities to stem the flow of migration across the Mediterranean. This was following the failure of policies initially deployed in 2011, following the Arab Spring, when the number of attempted crossings from North Africa began to increase substantially. From 2016, the Italian government, in collaboration with other European governments and EU agencies, has deployed a two-pronged strategy to close off the central Mediterranean. On one hand, authorities attempt to delegitimize and criminalise rescue NGOs, aiming to prevent them from operating in the central Mediterranean. On the other hand, those authorities provide material, technical and political support to Libya’s coastguard, encouraging and enabling them to more effectively intercept and ‘pull back’ migrants to the Libyan coast.
For Santarcangelo Festival, the video will be presented for the first time in the public domain, providing access to their detailed research around the Iuventa Case.

free event
  • Piazza Ganganelli

33' in a loop
video in English with Italian subtitles

project team Forensic Oceanography Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, Rossana Padaletti, Richard Limeburner
project Team Forensic Architecture Nathan Su, Christina Varvia, Eyal Weizman, Grace Quah
prodotto con il supporto di Borderline Europe, the WatchTheMed platform e Transmediale
sottotitoli Babel Subtitling