Lawyers challenged to speak through pictures instead of words

Image from Challenging Words Exhibition

It’s important not just to understand the law but to also understand how images can create emotive responses to law and issues of social justice.

Hans Gieng’s 1543 statue Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) – the first known depiction of Lady Justice wearing a blindfold – conveys a statement that is understood by legal professionals and laypeople alike. Justice is blind.

What happens when justice can see and legal themes are expressed through art? Challenging Words, an exhibition at the ANU College of Law will present legal statements and messages told through images and sound, exploring what happens when law is expressed through art.

The images were created at the Challenging Words Workshop, which was brought to Australia from Edinburgh for the first time in November last year.

Presented by Professor Zenon Bankowski, an emeritus professor at the University of Edinburg and an expert in social and legal theory, the workshop invited legal scholars from the ANU College of Law to express legal principals through art by creating sound recordings, digital collages, comics and portraits.

Senior lecturer Dr Dorota Gozdecka, who convened the workshop, said it was important for legal experts to be able to explain law through accessible media such as images.

“Workshops like this, especially the visual ones are important in this era because images are omnipresent,” she said.

“It’s important not just to understand the law but to also understand how images can create emotive responses to law and issues of social justice.” 

The artworks chosen for the exhibition have been created by a range of legal experts from early career researchers and doctoral candidates to professors.

The exhibition will feature a combination of comics, digital collages and Janus face portraits – a technique in which two people hold a piece of glass between their faces and draw a portrait of the other on either side.

Dr Gozdecka said learning how to communicate law through art helped legal scholars reach its most important audience: society.

“Legitimacy of laws depends on social approval for them,” she said.

“So when we allow people to see what law does and how it affects them it allows them to express this later on through voting and insisting on law reform in pressing issues of social justice.”

The exhibition will run from Friday, 24 February to 10 March in the ANU College of Law foyer.


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Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team