Daniela Ortiz

(Cuzco, Perú, 1985)

The Empire of Law, 2019

HD single-channel video, colour, sound

The Empire of Law (2019) is a critical visual investigation of the relationship between law, justice and colonialism. Brussels’ Palace of Justice and its copy built in Lima (Peru) serves as the point of departure. It analyses the architecture, the history and the context of both buildings and in doing so reveals the role of the justice system in the construction of colonial and racist structures. Throughout history the law has served as a legitimising tool for colonial practices. The Laws of Burgos of 1512 and the Berlin Act of 1885 are historical examples of this, but even today the idea of justice is used to legitimise a violent migration policy of aggressive persecution, imprisonment and deportation. Daniela Ortiz therefore speaks of ‘an empire of law’, deeply rooted in the colonial past, that is being expanded outwards from Europe. In this empire no form of justice is extended to the (ex-)colonies or the radicalised.

The Empire of Law (2019), is a video made in collaboration with Laurens Dhaenens. Part of the project Not Fully Human, Not Human At All, a collaboration between the artist, Netwerk Aalst, Kadist and Contour Biennale 9.

Film still.

Film screening at Netwerk Aalst, as part of Contour Biennale 9 (2019), Aalst, Belgium. Photo ©Tom Callemin