Conference: Tribunalism – The Case for Art

07. Oct - 08. Oct

Conference on October 7 and 8, 2021, 10:00 am - 7:00 pm, Leuphana University of Lüneburg (exact venue to be announced)

In recent decades, the historical format of the political tribunal has become an increasingly influential artistic communication structure for dealing with social conflicts –  in theater, cinema, and literature, but especially in the field of performance art. In staged or live-recorded (re)performances of legal and social exchanges that are – often to the point of identification – placed in truth-finding and reconciliation processes, completely new, performatively speaking and listening legal subjects and new kinds of visibilities and speaker* positions emerge within the artistic field. The potentially differentiating spectrum of subjective perceptions and judgments articulates in its public performance previously unconfrontable attitudes and viewpoints, that can border on manifestations of protest and enlightenment. In the exchange of accusation and confession, in making the secret and previously unheard appear, in the unsettling experience of being able to change previously fixed positions, participants and viewers encounter central characteristics of the historical tribunal –  in the "tribunalism" of art.

The Russell Tribunal against the Vietnam War, with Peter Weiss' play "Viet Nam Discourse" and its various excursions between tribunal, theater, and protest (uttered from and against the theater), has recently become an important reference for artistic as well as activist borderline experiences between law and art. Films such as "Bamako" (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006) or "Landscape as evidence. Artist as witness" (Zuleikha Chaudhari, 2017), the Action Alliance "Tribunal: NSU-Komplex auflösen", partly in collaboration with the group "Forensic Architecture", performances such as "The Moscow Trials" or "The Congo Tribunal" (Milo Rau, 2013 and 2015, respectively), the "Capitalism Tribunal" (2016) - these are just some tribunals that have found their place in the artistic field.

The conference "Tribunalism. The Case for Art" brings together artists, legal theorists, theater and art scholars, and activists to discuss what spaces artistic tribunals open up, what can be said that cannot be said elsewhere and in other ways, how the invocation of a juridical form relates to legal skepticism or legal criticism, how the absence of judgment in tribunals relates to other forms of protest as well as to possible consequences, and last but not least, which new legal subjects need to be imagined and staged.

Further information

Conference and exhibition participants: Zuleikha Chaudhari, Tyler Coburn, Alice Creischer, Radha d'Souza, Rajkamal Kahlon, Helen Knowles, Daniel Loick, Sven Lütticken, Sylvia Sasse, Madlyn Sauer, Ronald Searle, Abderrahmane Sissako, Peter Spillmann, René Talbot, Mirjam Thomann.

Organized by Susanne Leeb and Clemens Krümmel. 

For a detailed conference program, please consult this website,, from mid-September 2021.

To register for the conference, please contact Manuel Clancett.

Valid proof of one of the three safe hygienic conditions (recovered, tested, fully vaccinated) is required to attend the conference and to visit the exhibition.