[ISEA2022] Paper: Lisa Deml — “The Right to the Image”: Ethics of Representation and Appropriation in New Media Art Archives since the 2011 Arab Uprisings


Second Summit on New Media Art Archiving
June 11, MACBA – Convent dels Àngels. Short paper.

Keywords: ethics of appropriation, representation of conflict and violence, 2011 Arab Uprisings, Abounaddara, authority

In 2017, the Syrian collective Abounaddara removed most videos from its Vimeo channel in response to their misuse by the Triennale Milano. This case illustrates ethical concerns about authorship, consent and copyright that permeate the presentation of online media archives in art exhibitions—which are exacerbated when engaging documents of conflict and violence.

In 2017, the Syrian video art collective Abounaddara, that earned international acclaim for its documentation of Syrian life amidst conflict, has removed the vast majority of its videos from their Vimeo archive in response to what it regarded as their improper use by the Triennale Milano. Curator Massimiliano Gioni countered that the exhibition only made available material that was already in the public domain and that underscored the Triennale’s commitment to Syrian migration struggles. This case illustrates ethical concerns regarding authorship, authority, consent, and copyright that permeate the representation of digital and openly accessible media archives as part of international art exhibitions—which are exacerbated when they pertain to representations of conflict and violence. Now more than ever are we in relationships of moral, affective, and material intimacy with violence, and this calls for a reconsideration of how our senses are solicited by and implicated in the conduct of conflict. Taking Abounaddara’s video art archive as a point of departure, this paper invites participants to discuss practices of engagement that can respond to the growing demands and responsibilities inherent in new media art archives of conflict and violence.

  • Lisa Deml (DE/UK) is a Midlands4Cities (https://www.midlands4cities.ac.uk) funded doctoral researcher at Birmingham City University, UK. She holds degrees in Art History and Philosophy from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich. Initially trained as a journalist, she subsequently worked for public cultural institutions and non-profit organisations internationally, including Gropius- Bau, Berlin, Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. Prior to her doctoral research, she coordinated the multi-year project Afro-Sonic Mapping as well as assisted in the preparation and implementation of the exhibitions and accompanying publications Love and Ethnology and The Most Dangerous Game at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin. Her research interests focus on visual articulations of citizenship and artistic strategies to foster transnational solidarity and resistance, particularly in the framework of documentary and new media practices in the Middle East and North Africa.