Forensic Architecture team. Courtesy of Forensic Architecture.
The individuals who make up Forensic Architecture have exposed the lies of the Israeli Defense Forces, Russia’s foreign ministry, and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, along with many other powerful people and organizations. The collective, founded by Israeli-British architect Eyal Weizman, is a multidisciplinary team of architects, designers, developers, archaeologists, filmmakers, and more. Nominated for the Turner Prize in 2018, the group has been known to investigate human rights violations, launch legal battles, and reveal truths through exhibitions, journalism, and the internet.
This year at the Whitney Biennial, Forensic Architecture is presenting a video on former Whitney vice chairman Warren Kanders’s company Safariland, which produces tear-gas canisters fired at the U.S.–Mexico border in 2018. Utilizing machine learning, the team identified the canisters in photographs shared online. They planned to withdraw from the biennial, along with seven other artists, but ultimately remained after Kanders resigned in late July.
“Forensic Architecture have articulated an innovative understanding of aesthetics as operative,” said Richard Birkett, chief curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, which hosted a survey of the group’s work in 2018. They address, Birkett continued, “the ways in which acts of state violence are hidden and obscured, and opening up new possibilities for public accountability.”
The team made headlines in 2014 after using architectural rendering software to counter Israel’s minister of defense in the case of two Palestinian teens who were killed in the West Bank. They’ve surfaced hidden details and cover-ups around world events such as chemical attacks in Syria, drone strikes, and the Grenfell Tower fire in London. They’ve offered a nuanced view of sweeping global issues, like their interactive map that illustrates the diminishing Palestinian territory of the West Bank over five decades. The group was featured in the Milan Triennale earlier this year and will show at the Chicago Architecture Biennial this September, as well as biennials in South Korea and Romania.