Material Witness explores the question of political violence to ask how we might begin to access such events when evidence of their histories slowly disappears into past. It explores this question via two massacre videos produced during the final days of ethnic conflict: one shot in Izbica Kosovo in 1999 and the other, an anonymous execution video, captured by mobile phone in northern Sri Lanka sometime in 2009. In the case of the former the tape has entered into the legal proceedings of the ICTY where it functioned to provide evidence of war crimes. With respect to the Sri Lankan context, the video has only circulated within the courts of public opinion despite a UN enquiry as to it authenticity and the crimes depicted in the video have gone unpunished. How, in effect, do materials register trace effects of the violence out of which they emerged and what is, in turn, required for them to function as material witnesses to a crime?
Description: HD video, colour with stereo sound, 33:30 mins., 2014-15
Full-length preview copy of this video for public screening & exhibition is available upon request
Material Witness was supported by Forensic Architecture & HKW