Across the world, toxic tear gas is deployed to disperse bodies gathering in democratic protest, white phosphorus and chlorine gas to spread terror in cities, aerial herbicides to destroy arable land and ruin livelihoods, and large-scale arson to eradicate forests for industrial plantations. Mobilized by state and corporate powers, toxic clouds colonize the air we breathe across different scales and durations, from urban squares to continents, unique incidents to epochal latencies.
In the recent history of human rights, incidents of violence have been understood as momentary and kinetic: a gunshot or explosion, where ‘every contact leaves a trace’. But contemporary cloud studies require a different approach. In analysing airborne violence, causality is hard to demonstrate; the ‘contact’ and the ‘trace’ drift apart, carried away by winds or ocean currents. Clouds are transformative entities—their dynamics elusive and nonlinear. Around these toxic fogs, contemporary political conditions breed doubt and lethal scepticism; physical clouds become epistemological. When figures in power deny the realities of climate change or chemical strikes, those forced to inhabit the clouds must find new forms of resistance.
Eyal Weizman is the founding director of Forensic Architecture and Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. The author of over 15 books, he has held positions in many universities worldwide including Princeton, ETH Zurich and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He is a member of the Technology Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court and the Centre for Investigative Journalism. In 2019 he was elected life fellow of the British Academy and appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to architecture. In 2020 he was elected the Richard von Weizsäcker fellow at the Bosch Academy. Eyal studied architecture at the Architectural Association, graduating in 1998. He received his PhD in 2006 from the London Consortium at Birkbeck, University of London.
The lecture will be held in English language.