Maria Sitte

The role of investigative and criminological strategies in contemporary art (working title)

School of Art

Investigative and criminological strategies currently constitute a trend in the visual arts that cannot be overlooked. We are seeing contemporary works exhibiting significant characteristics of journalistic research work and these being linked to criminological and forensic visualizations that pursue an epistemological interest.

Attempts are being made to uncover and investigate human rights violations, murders, corruption and environmental crimes. Artistic analysis thus responds to socio-political and media-based everyday life: magazines, radio broadcasting and online media attest to the great interest in investigation that is assuming manifest form in the (re)formation of numerous investigative departments. At the same time, socio-political discourses on the credibility of information and images are conducted with the recently fashionable terms “fake” and “post-factual.” This highly ambivalent trend is also reflected in artistic investigations addressing said topics.

Artworks in various media that address the uncovering of political murder crimes will be analyzed in the context of this research project. Of interest are current artistic works based on the adaptation of documentary, journalistic or criminological techniques. The research proposal thus centers on the interplay between aesthetic and criminological argumentation rationales on the one hand, and the rhetoric of conviction resulting from these on the other. In temporal terms, the selection of works will be restricted to 20th and 21st-century artworks. The goal of the project is not to provide a moral appraisal of investigative and criminological practices, but the analysis of artworks that in the context of a “forensic turn” are geared towards exposing political murders and with the aid of modern technologies and new visual aesthetics put forward specific counter-narratives. If the work systematically seeks to investigate image-based data (satellite images, diagrams, etc.) for the depiction of murder crimes, the research project is in methodological terms assume a position rooted in the realm of image studies.


  • Prof. Christian Janecke
  • Prof. Heiner Blum