Agents Of Concern - lecture Christina Varvia

How are images used to raise concerns? Why do certain images concern us more than others? And when does the image itself become a cause for concern?

The conference and exhibition project Agents of Concern: Images and Empathy brings together an international group of artists and scholars to examine the complex ways in which images affect our emotional and cognitive understanding of the experiences and mental states of others.

This lecture is part of a multiple day programme. Check this website for the complete overview.

17 november 2023
18:00 - 20:00
PXL MAD Gallery, Elfde Liniestraat 25, 3500 Hasselt
Agents Of Concern Titelbeeld Web Horizontaal RGB (C) Graphic Design By Ann Bessemans, READSEARCH Agents Of Concern Titelbeeld Web Horizontaal RGB (C) Graphic Design By Ann Bessemans, READSEARCH

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Lecture Christina Varvia

On the 14 June 2023, a fishing vessel carrying up to 750 people seeking asylum in Europe sank off the coast of Greece causing the death of up to 600 people. The only vessel that was present at the time of the sinking was a Greek Coastguard ship. While Frontex planes equipped with thermal cameras and commercial vessels were ready to assist, the Greek Coastguard sent them away. When the survivors arrived on land, in Pylos, their phones were confiscated by the authorities. At the same time the media produced a particular image of the shipwreck, emphasizing the human bodies in distress. The depictions of migrants and refugees are always politically charged. As such (in)visibilities cause a particular regime of (im)mobility in the frontier zones of Europe. The European borders are both hyper-visibilised and black boxed for military and anti-migration purposes and visuality, creates an uneven political field of access to the border spaces.

In this talk, Christina Varvia will present a series of cases by Forensic Architecture, where the dominant power of images is met by counter shots from the ground. Itinerant witnesses turn their gaze back to the state and help us see the way visual and biopolitical regimes stratify and racialise human life. Witnesses use social media to document how they are being shot or pushed back at the borders. Activists demand access to footage, while researchers dissect images pixel by pixel to extract their informational value. The operative life of images can be found on the way that images travel and mediate our understandings of events of conflict. Image-sections carrying evidentiary traces get assembled and re-assembled in different models in our news cycles and in our brains, forming the nebulas of truth.

About Christina Varvia

Christina Varvia is currently a research fellow and formerly the deputy director of Forensic Architecture. She was trained as an architect and has taught at the Architectural Association, London. She is currently a lecturer at the Centre for Research Architecture, at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is pursuing her PhD at Aarhus University, Denmark, where she has received the Novo Nordisk Foundation Mads Øvlisen PhD Scholarship; she is also a Fellow at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. She is a founding member and the chair of the board of Forensis.

The Pylos Shipwreck investigation: Survivor pointing to the location where the rope used for towing was tied onto their boat © Forensis, 2023

Practical information

  • November 17th 2023
  • 18h00 - 20h00
  • PXL MAD, Elfde Liniestraat 25, 3500 Hasselt
  • Registration is required 

  • This lecture is part of a multiple day programme
Check the full programme and registration link
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