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The Empire of Law (2019)

Daniela Ortiz

The work of Daniela Ortiz evokes fields of tension through its focus on concepts such as nationality, radicalisation, social class and gender. By exploring notions of violence, the persecution of radicalised communities, inclusion and exclusion, she attempts to understand their manifestations in Western societies.

The Empire of Law (2019) is a critical visual investigation of the relationship between law, justice and colonialism. Brussels’ Palace of Justice and its copy built in Lima (Peru) serves as the point of departure. It analyses the architecture, the history and the context of both buildings and in doing so reveals the role of the justice system in the construction of colonial and racist structures. Throughout history the law has served as a legitimising tool for colonial practices. The Laws of Burgos of 1512 and the Berlin Act of 1885 are historical examples of this, but even today the idea of justice is used to legitimise a violent migration policy of aggressive persecution, imprisonment and deportation. Daniela Ortiz therefore speaks of ‘an empire of law’, deeply rooted in the colonial past, that is being expanded outwards from Europe. In this empire no form of justice is extended to the (ex-)colonies or the radicalised.

As part of the activistic ideology, Daniela wants the film distributed as widely as possible. The film can thus be viewed online and is distributed through the city’s educational and public programmes.

Credits: The Empire of Law (2019), video in collaboration with Laurens Dhaenens. Part of the project Not Fully Human, Not Human At All, a collaboration between the artist, Netwerk Aalst, Kadist and Contour Biennale 9.