2021/09/23: The Future of Death. Algorithmic Anxieties and Programmable Destruction

Throughout this presentation, I enquire into what forms of being are brought forth—and, inevitably, disavowed and denied—when the act of “perceiving” and defining life is devolved to algorithms. I propose that established ontological frames of reference, which have to date substantiated—albeit ineffectually—human rights legislation and international law regarding air-bound technologies, are being surreptitiously usurped by an algorithmic calculus of pre-emption and violence.  Quantifiable definitions of biopolitical forms of life are, in turn, determining—and in some cases pre-determining—whose life is expendable under the exceptional terms of contemporary military engagement. The over-arching challenge here becomes one of how we can, if at all, productively interject—legally, philosophically, creatively, and politically—into algorithmic rationalisations of life and death.

For link to the talk, see here

For further details of conference, see here

Public Talk: Akram Zaatari in conversation with Anthony Downey, New Art Exchange, July 14, 2018


Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 11.33.53

Akram Zaatari, Dance To The End of Love, 2011. (Film stills). © Akram Zaatari


Artist Akram Zaatari will be in conversation at the New Art Exchange, on the 14 July, 2018, with academic, editor, and writer Anthony Downey. Drawing from his research into vernacular photography, Zaatari explores the ways in which individuals experiment with performative narratives that start with studio photography and extend to YouTubing, with a strong focus on how Muslim communities are presenting online counter-narratives to negative depictions in the media.

For further information and to book tickets, see here.

Jury Member, Beirut Art Residency (BAR), Beirut, February 24, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 11.05.26

BAR is a live-work space for artists/collectives looking to develop projects in a stimulating environment. The goal of the program is to facilitate collaboration between international as well as local artists. During their time, residents are encouraged to diverge from their usual practice and experiment with new ideas with the comfort of knowing that they are not expected to produce finished work at the culminating Open Studio event. The BAR team hold weekly meetings with artists to help them locate materials, connect with local art figures and generally find their bearings in this multifaceted city.

The jury for choosing artists for 2019 included Fouad Elkoury, Anthony DowneyZiad AntarSandra Dagher, and Bernard Khoury. For more information, see here.

Symposium: Anthony Downey in conversation with Edmund Clarke, IKON Gallery, Birmingham, February 12, 2018.



This one-day symposium is a collaboration between Ikon, HMP Grendon and Birmingham City University (BCU). It responds to Edmund Clark’s exhibition, In Place of Hate, presented in partnership with Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, on show at Ikon until 11 March 2018.

Bringing together artists, therapists, critics and criminologists, the symposium will consider how prisoners and the criminal justice system are perceived by the public, politicians and media and the potential for artists to influence these perceptions. Presentations and discussion will address the following: the representation of prison(ers) in the media and discourse about criminal justice; the representation of prison(ers) in art and cinema; the role of art and creative therapies in prison and rehabilitation.

Anthony Downey will be in conversation with Edmund Clarke at 16:00 on the 11 March. For further details, see here.

Talk: “The Future of Image Production in the Middle East”, Nottingham Contemporary, February 13, 2018.


Detail from Héla Ammar, Sidi Bouzid, 2011. Courtesy of artist

February 13, 2018

The Future of Image Production in the Middle East: Critical Practices and Digital Networks
In this workshop, Anthony Downey will address how images circulate within the context of the Middle East today. He will examine how computer generated images are not just  replacing the “real” of events in the region, but determining the means by which history is been represented and archived. A key element here is the extent to which new and social media are being presented as transparent means for political ends in contemporary art practices and how cultural production is made to stand in for political action and social commentary. These processes have given rise to politicized archives and interpretive anxieties about virtual evidence and image-based historiographies, nowhere more so than when social media and digital platforms are being used as evidentiary tools to explain conflict across the Middle East.
For more information click here.

Lecture: “Who Benefits from the Work of Art”, V-A-C Foundation, Moscow, January 20, 2018.




20.01.2018 | 16:00–18:00

Who Benefits from the Work of Art: Political Exceptionalism and the Refugee Condition

A lecture by Anthony Downey

If the disavowal or absence of legal and political representation is a feature of being a refugee in an era of political exceptionalism, then what happens when artistic representation is inserted into this already compromised regime of visibility? In an all too amenable substitution that can often reconfirm the apparent absence of legal accountability, this lecture will suggest that cultural forms of representation are increasingly compensating for — if not replacing — the very systems and procedures of political and legal responsibility that are being denied refugees in the first place? This culturalisation of political debate has, in turn, effected two of the key aims of neoliberalism: the depoliticisation of debate and the de facto co-option of culture so that it ultimately answers to, rather than opposes, political debate.

The conversation will be in English with simultaneous translation into Russian. For further information, see here.

In Conversation: Ai Weiwei and Anthony Downey, FOMU, Antwerp, 25 October, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 11.32.29


Join us on Wednesday 25 October for a conversation between Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei and writer and academic Anthony Downey. On the occasion of Ai’s first monographic exhibition in Belgium, they will talk about pressing issues including privacy and surveillance, the global refugee crisis and the critical potential of photography in the age of social media. The exhibition at FOMU runs from 27 October 2017 until 18 February 2018.

A full transcript of the conversation will be available in February, 2018, from Third Text.

For tickets and information:

Keynote Paper: “Performing Rights: The Subject of Injustice and the Cultural Logic of Late Modernity”, Art, Justice and Terrorism, Imperial War Museum, June 17, 2017

17 June 2017

Art, Justice and Terror

Debate: Art, Justice and Terror  I  A day of talks and panel discussions

Curated by London College of Communication

11am – 1.30pm and 2.30 – 5pm  I  Book your tickets now: Adult day pass £12, Concession day pass £8

A series of talks and panel discussions in response to Edmund Clark: War of Terror. The programme will bring together artists, lawyers, eyewitnesses, writers and academics to discuss how art may contribute to informing social attitudes on matters of justice in a time of global conflict in which laws are sometimes absent.

Welcome address: Dr Christopher Stewart, Programme Director of Photography, London College of Communication

Art and Justice  I  11am – 1.30pm

How can art help bring justice to those directly affected by war? Can art question accountability? How might art manifest in the law itself? This morning session focusing on Art and Justice starts with a keynote by Professor Anthony Downey and features talks by Reprieve lawyer Cori Crider, former detainee and campaigner Moazzam Begg in conversation with Edmund Clark, and artist David Birkin. A consecutive panel discussion with the speakers is moderated by Max Houghton, Senior Lecturer at London College of Communication.

Anthony Downey’s keynote can be heard here.

Art and Terror  I  2.30 – 5pm

How can art represent a domestic experience of terror as a consequence of distant war? How can it help us to understand legal procedures enacted upon individuals for reasons of international security, which can in themselves be acts of terror? This afternoon session focusing on Art and Terror starts with a keynote by leading US writer Professor Fred Ritchin and features talks by IWM research curator Hilary Roberts, counter terrorism researcher Raffaello Pantucci, Professor Eyal Weizman, and photographic artist Diana Matar. A consecutive panel discussion with the speakers is moderated by Stephen Mayes, Director of the Tim Hetherington Trust.

How We Respond  I  Conversations – Artists on Conflict

Drop in, free  I  11.30 – 4pm

How are contemporary conflicts represented by artists, poets, photographers and in drama? What impact can their work have on our understanding of conflict? This is a unique chance to join artists and creatives whose work explore, represent or question our understanding of contemporary conflict for a conversation; to hear their views and to ask questions.

Installations and performances appearing throughout the galleries include Imogen Piper’s artwork Encoded Revolt, which translates Syrian airstrikes into music, as well as exclusive live presentations of BBC Media Action’s radio drama Hay El Matar, translated from Syrian to English for the first time, and first-hand accounts of conflict and exile through Amir Darwish’s live poetry performances.

Discussions will feature artists from each of the day’s installations and performances, including artist Imogen Piper, BBC Media Action Producer Boz Temple-Morris, poet Amir Darwish and photographer Edmund Clark.

Essay: “Scopic Reflections: Incoming and the Technology of Exceptionalism” (February, 2017)

February 2017

Richard Mosse In Conversation with Anthony Downey


‘I see only from one point, but in my existence am looked at from all sides.’

– Jacques Lacan

“From the opening of Richard Mosse’s film Incoming (2016), it is evident that we are looking at something disturbingly vivid. Abstract images, grounded in a resounding radar-like echo, give way to the supersonic pitch of a strident, purposeful engine. A tenebrous image of a fighter jet strafing a town with laser-like intensity, its nose incandescent with heat as it fires round after round of needle-like missiles, appears almost languid and disconcertingly graceful in its livid ambit. An anti-aircraft gunfires back, no doubt in vain, at this incredibly fast moving object,while explosions are registered as bleached out columns of billowing phosphorescent light. Subsequent images show a ship boarding people from a rubber dinghy, their forms bleached out and spectral. Moments later, we see the irradiated deck of an aircraft carrier complete with fighter jets undergoingpreparation for imminent attack. This could be a video game or hell incarnate – or, potentially, both”.

To read full essay, please click here

To listen to Richard Mosse in conversation with Anthony Downey, Barbican Centre, 2017, please click here.

To purchase a copy of Richard Mosse, click here.

Talk: The Future of an Anachronism, Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah, Palestine, 16 Nov 2016

16 November 2016

Paul Klee, Joana Hadithomas, Kalil Jorige

London (2016), Paul Klee (1920), Joana Hadjithomas and Kalil Joreige (1997-2006); photos from the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre


For information about this event click here

Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre (as part of the Art Writing Workshop) invites you to a seminar with Anthony Downey in discussion with Tina Sherwell at Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre on Wednesday 16/11/2016 at 17:00. Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center مركز خليل السكاكيني الثقافي Khalil Sakakini Str. Al Masyoon Ramallah Palestine, 0970 Ramallah

The Future of an Anachronism: Contemporary Art Practices and the Precarious Image

Beginning with Oktober 18, 1977 (1988), a work in which Gerhard Richter grappled with the historical legacy of the Baader-Meinhof group, this lecture explores how artists employ anachronism and displacement to negotiate the material and conceptual precariousness associated with civil conflict, political upheaval, and acts of terror. In negotiating, through anachronistic forms, the politics and aesthetics of representing conflict and violence, contemporary art can often produce alternative forms of knowledge that are, in turn, based upon the precarious nature of representation itself: the manner, that is, in which the means of producing images, be they in the form of painting, sculpture, video, film or performance, can productively employ an aesthetic that is intimately associated with self-effacement, elision, destruction, ambivalence, withdrawal, abstraction, obfuscation, equivocation and evasiveness.