TheStrange Case of the Case ~ Introduction Sven Lütticken


For this edition of Roaming Assembly, the theatre Huis Oostpool in Arnhem becomes a meta-court in which artists and art historians discuss and (re)enact legal cases. As ways of reshaping the sensible and the social, juridical and aesthetic practice and theory have a complex and fraught relationship that is at the basis of Sven Lütticken's DAI theory seminar Legalize Everything, which deals with the purchase the “real abstractions” of the law have on ever more sectors of society and aspects of life; we are in the midst of a progressive “legalization”—in the sense of its incorporation of art, among other disciplines, to the sphere of the juridical.

On the one hand, the law is supposedly universal in its reach; there is no true outside, for to be placed outside the law (by having some or all of your rights suspended) is still to be captured by the law, as exception. The sovereign suspension of the law may be its highest form of enactment. The daily enactment of the law occurs in places designed for Rechtsprechung, for rechtspraak: courts. Universal though the law’s claims may be, its productivity reveals itself in specific locations, in zones where special protocols apply; in custom-built architectural settings and theatrical performances. It is here that the world is remade and, for instance, legal provisions intended to safeguard the rights of former slaves can be used to formulate a doctrine of corporate personhood.

If, for Cicero, actors merely mimic the real while (legal) orators act the real, this distinction is far from clear-cut. Even while the juridical seeks to regulate art and fully subject the aesthetic to the productive logic of (intellectual property) law, the court case as legal theater can be subject to unscripted interventions by various players.