When the law is unjust, we must put the law on trial. This is the central thesis of the exhibition The Law on Trial, which introduces the project Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes (CICC) by academic, writer, lawyer and activist Radha D’Souza and artist Jonas Staal at the Oil Tank Culture Park, Seoul. In an immersive installation consisting of towers of oil barrels and images of animals that have been made extinct from the colonial period to the present, D’Souza and Staal present a new legal framework in the form of The Intergenerational Climate Crimes Act to prosecute climate crimes committed by states and corporations alike.
The CICC was founded by D’Souza and Staal in 2021, based on D’Souza’s book What’s Wrong With Rights? (2018), with the aim to prosecute climate crimes committed by states and corporations, not only in the past and present, but also in the future. During the first iteration of the CICC at Framer Framed, Amsterdam, D’Souza and Staal organized public hearings in which the Dutch State and transnational corporations registered in The Netherlands, such as Unilever, ING and Airbus, were tried for committing climate crimes. Prosecutors and witnesses provided evidence of their wrongdoing. The public acted as jury and were tasked with passing a verdict based on The Intergenerational Climate Crimes Act: the legal foundation of the CICC, which is central to the exhibition The Law on Trial.
The first waves of mass extinctions amongst animals and plant life as well as the human communities and cultures that thrived with them, manifested first during the colonial period. Colonialism turned living worlds into property, into commodities, and was backed by the law in doing so. In this light, the climate crisis is a colonial crisis, that has been ongoing for the past 500 years—aided and abetted by dominant legal systems and imaginaries. The images of animals made extinct that are central to the exhibition The Law on Trial, are evidence of that long history of climate criminality that continues to define our present and the possibility of liveable futures, but their presence is also a call to recognize them not as products or commodities, but as non-human ancestors, comrades even, with whom we share a common struggle to defend living worlds for all.
Situating The Law on Trial in the Oil Tank Culture Park, a former oil depot, brings D’Souza and Staal’s work to the site of the crime: fossil capitalism, and the fossil elites that have benefited from it. Building their installation from the remnants of the fossil industry that created the tank, such as defunct oil barrels, proposes to build on the ruins of extractive systems a new proposition: The Intergenerational Climate Crimes Act—a new legal imaginary that centers on intergenerationality, interdependency and regeneration across the human and non-human world; —a vision not of the law, but of justice, in which humans, animals and plants gather as comrades to regenerate the world anew.
Dates: 18 November – 4 December 2022
Venue: Oil Tank Culture Park, T4
(87 Jeungsan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul)
Opening: 18 November, 16:00 – 18:00, with
a conversation between Radha D’Souza and
Listen to the City at 16:30 – 17:15
Produced by Drifting Curriculum (ARKO International Joint Fund
『2021-2022 Korea-Netherlands International Exchange Program』)
In partnership with Framer Framed, Amsterdam
With support from the Arts Council Korea, DutchCulture, Embassy of the Netherlands in Korea
Project team: Radha D’Souza and Jonas Staal (artists); Juhyun Cho (curator); Jiyoung Kim (exhibition and program coordinator); Annie Park (project coordinator); Seoyoung Jeon(production coordination), Nadine Gouders (production coordination); Paul Kuipers (architect); Hayoung Im and Dinara Vasilevskaia (graphic design); HyunJun Kim (installation construction)