A Seminar with Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Patrick Hanafin, Anne Karpf and Susan Schuppli

Saturday 25 February, 4.30pm
The Showroom, 63 Penfold Street, London NW8 8PQ
Free, all welcome

The Right to Silence II expands on the research and polemics at the core of Lawrence Abu Hamdan's 'Aural Contract' project, focusing on the politics of listening and the role of the voice in law. The day brings together a series of talks and discussions by scholars, artists and writers who will reflect on speech and what it reveals about us as legal subjects.

The Right to Silence II opens with an introduction by Abu Hamdan to his 'Aural Contract Audio Archive', a compilation of forensic listening content developed by the artist, followed by presentations by Patrick Hanafin, Professor of law and Director of the Centre for Law and the Humanities at Birkbeck and Susan Schuppli, artist and Senior Research Fellow at Goldsmiths. The day, which includes talks and an open discussion will be moderated by sociologist, writer and broadcaster Anne Karpf.

About the Talks:

Patrick Hanafin, 'From Confession to Contestation: The Right to Unexpected Speech'

During the seminar Patrick Hanafin will turn to the question of extorting speech as a mode of control, looking in particular at the work of Maurice Blanchot. In his contribution, 'From Confession to Contestation: The Right to Unexpected Speech', Hanafin will explore the voice and speech in this context by asking, 'why does law want us to speak and to what end?', 'how does law make us speak?' and 'how can we resist and refuse to speak?'.

Susan Schuppli, 'Some Sinister Force'
In her contribution, Susan Schuppli focuses upon the 18 - 1/2 minute tape-gap in Watergate Tape 342, which was believed to be an act of clumsy erasure by Nixon in 1972. It was the presumed retraction of evidence - the recorded voice on tape and its subsequent removal - that transformed this tape into evidence, which in turn produced a new legal forum around the tape-gap, one that brought forensic science and expert witnesses (audio technologists) into the trial. Once the existence of the Whitehouse tapes was known, Nixon's human testimony (his refusal to speak on the grounds that such testimony might be incriminatory) became largely irrelevant as the subpoenaed material witnesses - the tapes - could now speak in his stead. The absent recording, which mapped precisely onto the timeline of the break-in at Democratic National Committee Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, had converted non-evidence into such compelling and incriminatory material evidence, that it in part activated the moves towards Presidential impeachment.

About the Speakers:

Lawrence Abu Hamdan
British/Lebanese artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan is based in London, his projects include Aural Contract, Homeworks 5 Beirut (2010) and WYSPA IS Gdansk (2011), Model Court, CCA Glasgow (2008) and Chisenhale Gallery London (2011). His hybridized practice means that he has written for Cabinet Magazine and the 10th Sharjah Biennial and is now developing a radio documentary trilogy produced by The Showroom London, Casco Utrecht and as part of a Phd at the Centre for Research Architecture Goldsmiths College. Abu Hamdan is part of the group running the arts spaces Batroun Projects, Lebanon and 113 Dalston Lane in London.

Patrick Hanafin is Professor of Law at Birkbeck Law School, University of London, where he also directs the Law School's Centre for Law and the Humanities. His research engages with questions of law and the biopolitical, law and literature, human rights and citizenship, and the construction of community and identity. He has been a Visiting Professor at the School of Law at the University of Porto, Portugal and at the Law Faculty at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He has held research fellowships at the European University Institute in Florence and at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. His books include: Deleuze and Law: Forensic Futures (with Rosi Braidiotti and Claire Colebrook) (2009); Conceiving Life: Reproductive Politics and the Law in Contemporary Italy (2007); Law and Literature (with Joseph Brooker and Adam Gearey) (2004); Constituting Identity: Political Identity Formation and the Constitution in Post-Independence Ireland (2001), Identity, Rights and Constitutional Transformation, (With Melissa Williams) (1999), and Last Rights: Death, Dying and the Law in Ireland (1997).

Anne Karpf is a writer, former radio critic of The Guardian and award-winning journalist. A regular broadcaster, her books include The Human Voice (Bloomsbury). She is Reader in Professional Writing and Cultural Inquiry at London Metropolitan University.

Susan Schuppli is a media artist and cultural theorist who is a Senior Research Fellow in Forensic Architecture, Goldsmiths University of London where she also received her doctorate in 2009. Previously she participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program and completed her MFA at the University of California San Diego. Her creative projects have been exhibited at The Kitchen in New York, the Brussels Biennal, Belgium, Artspace, Australia, and most recently at Museum London in Canada (2012). She is on the editorial board of the journals SITE (Stockholm) and Second Nature (Melbourne) and is a member of the Photo-Lexic Research Group based in Tel Aviv. Recent projects and essays have appeared in Cabinet, Photoworks, Architectural Design, Borderlands, Cosmos and History, Memory Studies, and Academia Press.


The Right to Silence is realised as a collaboration between Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Electra and The Showroom. The Right to Silence accompanies Abu Hamdan's exhibition at The Showroom, Aural Contract: The Freedom of Speech Itself (1 February - 17 March). The exhibition includes The Freedom of Speech Itself, an audio documentary directed by the artist, looking at the history and contemporary application of forensic speech analysis and voice-prints, focusing on the UK's controversial use of voice analysis to determine the origins and authenticity of asylum seekers' accents. The exhibition is open Wednesday - Saturday, 12 - 6pm further information

Image: Ear Piece



Right To Silence III
Wednesday 7 March, 7pm
Electra, 3rd Floor Shacklewell Studios, 18 Shacklewell Lane, London E8 2EZ UK
Free event, for bookings: bookings@electra-productions.com

Documentary double bill, including Jean-Pierre Gorin's 1979 film Poto and Cabengo, and The Right to Remain Silent, a This American Life documentary about the recordings of New York police officer Adrian Schoolcraft.


Third Floor, Shacklewell Studios, 18 Shacklewell Lane, London E8 2EZ, UK


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