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Lisa Stuckey

Investigative Aesthetics: Contemporary Art and Jurisdiction

Lisa Stuckey’s dissertation critically examines the connection between contemporary art and jurisdiction. Legal theory and practice are questioned in relation to art, and art theory and practice are opened up to the law in order to understand their instructive relations and to trace the implications of shifted «valorization spheres» (Guattari 2013).

The focus lies on the research agency Forensic Architecture, which investigates current ecological crises and crimes against humanity to bring them to the exhibition hall and the courtroom. The processual products, created through cartographic cross-examinations, are pieces of evidence that are distributed in both legal and art contexts. Nevertheless, the agency makes no claim to art; the reference system is the law and its media conditions. Stuckey’s study subjects this self-conception to a «symptomatic reading» (Althusser 1972).

A comprehensive art-theoretical and transdisciplinary reappraisal of «investigative aesthetics» is the intent of this dissertation. The term, which is initially derived from the agency, serves as an operative concept to be illuminated in regard to media aesthetics and theory politics. This draws attention to the changed role of museums and courts and makes a transformed use of media visible: changing from the «artist-as-ethnographer» (Foster) to the «artist-as-detective» through techniques of forensics and espionage. These new dimensions of uncovering, which follow the «institutional critique» in the art of the 1990s, lead to a functional change in art. Why it is aesthetic and poetic procedures that are entrusted with a radical questioning of social justice—in the sense of «response-ability» (Haraway)—this work analyzes in historical depth.


Lisa Stuckey is a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She holds a MA in Art and Communication with emphasis on the History and Theory of Art (graduation 2015) and a MFA in Media Art (graduation 2020). 2018/2019 she was Junior Fellow / Abroad of IFK International Research Center for Cultural Studies; in this context, she conducted research at the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, and at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. 2019/2020 she is associate member of the Graduiertenkolleg «Configurations of Film» at Goethe University Frankfurt.

Publications i. a.: all-over Magazine for Art and Aesthetics and the Journal for Artistic Research; lectures i. a.: Brut Künstlerhaus, Volksbühne Berlin, Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Academy, Literaturhaus Wien, IFK, and international conferences; film screenings i. a.: Austrian Cultural Forum NYC, Anthology Film Archives, Diagonale; curatorial projects i. a.: xhibit, mumok kino, and Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los Angeles.