The Agency for Legal Imagination (ALI): Between Visual and Legal Activism
Author: Avi Feldman
Curator and writer based in Tel Aviv, Berlin, and Dresden. He was the 2018 curator in residence at
Ludlow 38, the MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies program, NYC. Feldman is the
founder of The Agency for Legal Imagination, which is an independent organization devoted to the investigation of existing and imagined relations between legal and artistic imagination, and visual activism and legal activism.
In 2018, the Agency organized and collaborated with Tali Keren, Hinda Weiss, Jason Loebs, Forensic Architecture, NSU Tribunal, and Devin Kenny, among others. The Agency started operating in NYC following a residency, workshops and exhibition at Artport Tel Aviv (2015-2017), and an exhibition at tranzit/sk, Bratislava (2017). Feldman holds a law degree and has been a member of the Israeli Bar since 2005.
The Agency for Legal Imagination (ALI) is an independent organization dedicated to the investigation of the existing and imagined relations between legal and artistic imagination, as well as between visual and legal activism. Existing as an adaptable platform based on exchange and collaboration between institutions, individual practitioners, and scholars from the fields of art, law and politics, the ALI provides theoretical analysis and creative, new perceptions on justice, imagination, as well as visual and judicial activism. Through the untangling of spaces, gaps, and lacunae in which both fields of practice and knowledge intersect, the ALI sets in motion an exploration of influences and interactions between law and art.
The ALI’s preliminary questions concern witnessing, violence, counter-archive, and the creation of evidence. Some of these topics relate to Shoshana Felman’s research on literature, trauma, and witnessing. Felman understands the act of bearing witness as an act of speaking the truth, whether “before a court of law or before the court of history [...] as the narrative account of the witness is at once engaged in an appeal and bound by an oath .”According to Felman, the truth of the testimony “embraces the vulnerability, the legal fallibility, and the fragility of the human witness. It is precisely the witness’s fragility that is paradoxically called upon to testify and to bear witness” . In recent years, Felman’s analysis of the act of witnessing has become challenged by Eyal Weizman, who argues that the era of the witness may have reached its end, to be replaced by the forensic era . Weizman together with Thomas Keenan 
defined Felman’s era of the witness as beginning with the Eichmann trial in 1961 and ending with the discovery of the skull of Josef Mengele in 1985, which marks the emergence of a forensic sensitivity. In contrast to the fragile, uncertain, difficult-to-believe, and spoken testimony of the witness, testimonies and evidence should be an outcome of a forensic scientific investigation. This process, they suggest, can provide much more reliable, truthful evidence in the courtroom.