Installation / 2 Channel video / Headphones / HD / Stereo / 34’ / 2015
The 2014 “ELSA Moot Court Competition on WTO Law” (court competition in international trade law), which took place at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, builds the base for “The Case“.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only international organization holding authority over the rules of international trade. In 1995, it replaced the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), which had been created in 1947.
WTO’s primary goal is to foster liberalism via the promotion of free trade, the settlement of commercial disputes and the oversight of national policies.
The Elsa Moot Court Competition on WTO Law for jurists is a simulated hearing of a legal case, which different parties expose and debate on. It constitutes a moment where language morphs into rhetorics and thus also into a specific instrument of discourse and politics. These processes, by which lawyers and judges rhetorically negotiate laws, also constitute political moments that unveil the power of language.
During the semi-final and the final round, I filmed two different teams. One was from the renowned Harvard Law School in Cambridge, which acted as the complainant during the final round. The other team came from the National and Kapodistrian University in Athens. It embodied the complainant at the semi-final, and the respondent at the final round of the hearing on the same legal case.
The legal case at the 2014 ELSA Moot Court Competition is built on a complaint filed with the WTO Court by the fictive African State “United Kingdom of Commercia” against another fictive African State called the “Federal Republic of Aquitania”.
The case may be described as follows :
In 2005, Nova Tertia, one of the Federal Republic of Aquitania’s provinces, sells its water supply and water treatment to a private company, Avanti SA, signing a contract for 20 years.
In 2007, the company rises its service costs by 70%. At the same time, it refuses to carry out the extension and renovation works the government has been calling for several times. This leads to a protest movement against the contract signed with Avanti SA among the population.
In 2009, the province of Nova Tertia suspends the contract concluded with Avanti SA by anticipation.
The Headquarters of Avanti SA being in Commercia, the company requests the Ministry of Trade of the United Kingdom of Commercia to file a complaint against the Federal Republic of Aquitania with the WTO Court.
This fictitious legal case, its description and the utterly realistic issues it brings up, raises questions regarding the production of rhetorics, of language and of their application within economic and political structures.
I confront these substantial questions with a visual language which produces fictive hypotheses to, once again, blur the boundaries between documentary and fictional content.
The installation comprises 2 synchronized screens hanging next to each other. The sound is transmitted via headphones.
Filmed at the WTO, Geneva.
With support from the Office of Culture Canton Bern.