Extraterritorial Blind Spots

Forensic Architecture

While the concept of extraterritoriality has traditionally applied to people and physical spaces, it may be also extended to other objects and spheres of activity, for example to regimes of information and representation. The logic of extraterritoriality—the quality of being (legally) present at a distance—seems to apply to visual images that are either excluded or exempted from the normal workings of the law. In cases of exclusion, the images are removed from visibility and circulation by those in power through mechanisms of boycott, censorship, privatization, or nationalization; in such cases, the “extraterritorial” images may remain present in public discourse, but only via indirect alternative representations. In cases of exemption (for example, in works of art that strive to suspend unjust legally discriminating regimes), the images elude the arbitrary constraints of territorial regimes, illuminate their blind spots, and contest their very foundations. In such cases, the extraterritorial image may enable us to rethink the current limits of both space and law from an ethical point of view.

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