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CREECA Lecture: “Law and Visual Culture in Three Vignettes: The Albanian Dissident, the East German Judge, and the Polish Prosecutor” with Agata Fijalkowski
November 17, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm
This lecture will explore the relationship between law and visual culture by looking at photographs of individuals (a dissident, a judge, and a prosecutor) who were involved in high-profile trials during the Stalinist period. An image can hide and expose questions of legitimation and authority pertaining to Stalinist rule and how we view defendants, judges, prosecutors, and justice. Visualising law requires extra-legal sources and analysis to reveal the nuances of a question that has been well researched but in which there is still much to discover about key players and events, as well as a better recognition of legal biographies that make for a richer history about law under Communism. The three vignettes come from the archives of Albania, East Germany, and Poland. As viewers we are in between the spectacle and the frame, which our unconscious reaches out to and connects with; we see, we look, and we try to understand the image’s meaning. The experience is unforgettable.
About the Speaker: Dr Agata Fijalkowski (Leeds Beckett University) is in the process of completing Law, Visual Culture, and the Show Trial, for GlassHouse Books (Routledge). The monograph considers photographs of trials from the period 1944-1957 in Albania, East Germany, and Poland. It contends that these photographs ‘speak legally’. The work’s distinct novelty lies in unravelling the cultural, historical, and political implications of visualising law from the images themselves. Agata’s exploration of the law and the visual has been rewarding. Agata organised an exhibition on the Albanian writer and political dissident Musine Kokalari (1917-1983) at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The display included a short, ‘arty’ film ‘An Unsung Hero: Musine Kokalari (2017)’ (on IMDb). Using archival materials, the film dramatised Musine Kokalari reading her court statement at her 1946 trial, which was originally denied by the military tribunal.