The Empire of Law

a symposium, a workshop and a film by Daniela Ortiz

The Empire of Law is a critical visual analysis of the relation between law, justice and colonialism that deals with the Brussels Palace of Justice and its copy built in Lima, Peru, in the 1930s. Looking at the architecture, history and context of both buildings, it unveils the role of the legal system in the construction of extractivist, racist and neo-colonial global structures.

Law served as a legitimating tool of colonialism throughout history. The Law of the Indies of 1512 and The Berlin Act of 1885 are clear examples. Yet, also today the idea of justice is used to approve violent migratory control policies, including the strengthening of the persecution, detention and deportation of persons. As a result, Ortiz’ speaks of a European project of creating an ‘Empire of Law’, an empire, rooted in colonialism, in which justice to the colonial territories and racialized people can never be found.

The Empire of Law *is a long term collaboration between Daniela Ortiz and Netwerk Aalst within the Unreliable Protagonist programme. The project consists out of a two day symposium and workshop and a newly commissioned video that will be launched early 2019 .

The project is part of the Global South a project developed in collaboration with Kadist Art Foundation (in collaboration with Natasa Petresin Bachelez) and this year’s edition of Contour, biennial for moving image.