Public discussion: Activating narrative, combating torture: visualizing human rights – potentials and challenges

Public discussion: “Activating Narrative, Combating Torture:
Visualizing Human Rights — Potentials and Challenges”

Dates: 27 March 2023; 16.30–18.00
Address: Vordere Zollamtsstraße 7, 1030 Vienna, Seminar Room 20 (5th Floor/DG)

Please join our public discussion about visual strategies for addressing torture and ill treatment through graphic arts.

What is the motivation behind their approaches? What type of research is required for each approach? Which ethical questions come up? What are underlying assumptions about the impact of their artistic practices? How can the discourses of human rights and artistic practice be mutually and productively understood, and how can they be practically interwoven?


Shazeera Zawawi is a Malaysian-born artist and former Senior Adviser on Research and Innovation to the Association for Prevention of Torture in Switzerland (APT) over the last 9 years. A lawyer by training, Zawawi has published and exhibited comics and cartoons with the International Commission of Jurists in Thailand, Asia Legal Resource Centre’s Journal on Torture, the Organization for Security and Cooperation’s Campaign on Countering Violent Extremism, and the International Fumetto Comics Festival. As part of her work with the APT, Zawawi used comics and cartoons to document testimonies by torture victims, raise awareness on the importance of torture prevention and strengthen authorities’ capacities to safeguard persons deprived of liberty. In 2019, Zawawi was part of Malaysia’s Cartoonist Against Torture coalition, launched by the National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), and during the pandemic, her work was exhibited in the first regional human rights cartoon exhibition at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Shazeera is also part of the Tableau data community where she was appointed as one of the global Tableau Ambassador in 2022 for her efforts in combining art and data in visual storytelling. She currently works as a data analyst in the corporate sector.


Steven Cottingham is a visual artist based in Vancouver. Cottingham’s work engages with “virtual realism” and the politics of visualization to investigate how speculative activity affects our perception of reality. Encompassing surveillance algorithms that gather predictive data, hindsight evidence deployed in courts of law, and the blurred overlap of photographic and photoreal imagery, his research historicizes systems of control. Cottingham has exhibited internationally at Artists Space (New York, 2022), Milan Machinma Festival (Milan 2022), Natalia Hug Galerie (Cologne, 2022), The Polygon Gallery (North Vancouver, 2021), The Museum of Capitalism (Oakland, 2017), among others, and from 2021 to 2022 he participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York. Cottingham’s first solo exhibition in Austria will open at ENTRE Vienna on 31 March 2023.


Walter Suntinger is an independent human rights consultant with a background in (international) law and systemic change management. Suntinger’s main working areas are: monitoring places of detention, human rights reform, training in the police and the criminal justice system, and consulting activities for business. Suntinger’s academic work focuses on torture, asylum law, monitoring, training, systemic approaches to human rights, and his several practical tools include police training manuals and guidance documents for preventive human rights monitoring. Suntinger was a member of the Austrian Human Rights Advisory Board from 1999 to 2012, and a member of the visiting commission of the Austrian National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) from 2012 to 2015, of which Advisory Board he is currently a part of.

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