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Title: The Art of Justice: Reconfiguring the Courtroom Object
Authors: Latchem, Johannah Elizabeth
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This research intervenes in the material culture of the courthouse to establish new rituals that inform public understandings of the law. Art installations installed in the courtroom critique the symbolic materiality of law’s historical artifacts. The creation of objects, and their roles in new embodied courtroom performativities, challenge existing courthouse rituals and expose the need for new ones to convey revised messages to the public. The courtroom object at the centre of my research is the Admiralty’s silver oar. It has its origins in the earliest admiralty court, during the reign of King Edward III in the 1360s. It was the only courtroom object processed to the gallows and it is still processed and displayed in courtrooms in the UK and globally today. The PhD extends to the courthouse environment. Data gathered on courtroom acoustics revealed how the architecture and acoustics of the historic court silenced, or facilitated, those involved in judiciary processes. These datasets, along with visualisations of the sound movement within the space and archival research, were employed as a source for producing site-specific artwork. My work also examines representation and responsibility in contemporary public art in the courthouse and the woman’s voice in historic sites of law and order. My PhD is cross-disciplinary, drawing on methods and approaches from Fine Art, Art History, and History. There is a ‘moral value’ approach to some western public courthouse commissions by artists and commissioners and evidence of a tendency for artists working site specifically in the courthouse to refer to established symbols of justice that are still widely recognised. My work is distinct from this, focusing an historic symbol of justice that has become largely redundant and, yet, is still in use today when so few of its viewers know what it represents.
Description: Ph. D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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