To mark the opening of the exhibition Terror Contagion, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is presenting a conversation between Eyal Weizman, director of the London-based research collective Forensic Architecture, the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, and Shourideh C. Molavi, director of Forensic Architecture’s research project Digital Violence: How the NSO Group Enables State Terror. The conversation will be moderated by John Zeppetelli, director and chief curator of the MAC, who also curated the exhibition.
The Forensic Architecture collective works across the disciplinary boundaries of art, activism, architecture, digital technologies and investigative journalism. It conducts investigations that reconstruct and elucidate diverse cases of human rights violation, environmental crime and state, police and corporate violence occurring across the world.
Terror Contagion presents an immersive scenographic version of one of these investigations, supported by Amnesty International and The Citizen Lab, which explores abuses perpetrated using a spyware app produced by the Israeli cyber-weapons manufacturer NSO Group. This malware, called Pegasus, has been sold to governments across the world and used to target human rights defenders, activists and journalists.
The video sequences presenting the accounts of victims of the spyware are narrated by renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden. The installation is accompanied by a soundtrack created by well-known musician and producer Brian Eno. The exhibition also features a new film by Laura Poitras, recipient of a Pulitzer Prize and director of the Academy-award winning film Citizenfour.
About Eyal Weizman
Eyal Weizman is Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures and founding director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2010 he founded the research agency Forensic Architecture and directs it ever since. The work of the agency is documented in the exhibition and book FORENSIS (Sternberg, 2014), as well as in Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability (Zone/MIT, 2017) and in numerous exhibitions worldwide. In 2007 he set up, with Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, the architectural collective DAAR in Beit Sahour/Palestine. This work is documented in the book Architecture after Revolution (Sternberg, 2014). In 2013 he designed a permanent folly in Gwangju, South Korea which was documented in the book The Roundabout Revolution (Sternberg, 2015). His other books include The Conflict Shoreline (Steidl and Cabinet, 2015), Mengele’s Skull (Sternberg, 2012), The Least of all Possible Evils (Verso, 2011), Hollow Land (Verso, 2007), A Civilian Occupation (Verso, 2003). Weizman is on the editorial board of Third Text, Humanity, Cabinet and Political Concepts and is on the board of directors of the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) and on the Technology Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. He previously sat on the advisory boards of the ICA in London and B’Tselem in Jerusalem, amongst others. He graduated in architecture in 1998 from the Architectural Association in London and completed his PhD at the London Consortium/Birkbeck College in 2006.
About Laura Poitras
Laura Poitras is an American filmmaker and journalist. Citizenfour (2014), the third part of her 9/11 trilogy, won an Oscar for best documentary. The first film in the series, My Country, My Country (2006), which documents the US occupation of Iraq, was nominated for an Academy Award. Part two, The Oath (2010), focuses on the Guantánamo Bay prison and Al Qaeda. Poitras’s reporting on NSA mass surveillance and Edward Snowden received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. She is also the recipient of many other awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship.
About Shourideh C. Molavi
Shourideh is the dedicated Israel-Palestine researcher for Forensic Architecture, linking our investigations to the work and research of civil society groups and human rights defenders in the country. She is a scholar in political science specialising in critical international relations and political theory and trained with a background in International Humanitarian Law. Shourideh has almost two decades of extensive academic, legal research, and fieldwork experience in the Middle East on the topics of human and minority rights, with an emphasis on the relationship between the law, violence and power. She is Senior Lecturer in Critical Urbanisms at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Her publications include Stateless Citizenship: The Arab Citizens of Israel (Brill, 2013); Contemporary Israel/Palestine (Oxford University Press, 2018); Environmental Warfare in Gaza (Pluto Press, 2021); Interrogating the Citizen: On the Israeli Logic of Exclusion (I.B. Tauris, 2022, forthcoming).