J'Accuse
First shown at "J'Accuse",South London Gallery, London, 2005
Installation view, Stage, with keyboards, loudspeakers and turntable 450 cm x 550 x 285 cm.
Photo: Marcus Leith

Note: J’Accuse was an open letter to the French President in favour of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery officer in the French army who had been convicted of treason. Zola’s letter exposed Dreyfus’s trial as an anti-Semitic cover-up in which many high-ranking French officials were implicated. No other newspaper article has provoked such public debate and controversy or had such an impact on law, justice and society than J’Accuse, written by French novelist Emile Zola in defence of Captain Dreyfus in 1898. Zola’s article, which led to Zola himself being tried for criminal libel, his financial ruin and some say even his untimely death, forms the starting point for J’Accuse.

Visitors to the Gallery were invited to mount a replica court bench and judges’ chair to view the video The Mineral Judges, in which three fictional characters Cerith van Zola, Father Law and Judge Nelson search for evidence in the bed of the river Thames at low tide. Alongside this a series of bank sculptures were presented: The Bank of Evidence, The Bank of England, The European Central Bank and The Bank of Accusations, made from buckets of gravel and mud, euro coins and dollar bills. All the while the sound of harpsichord music by Henry Purcell filled the Gallery. A palette of black and white serving as a reminder that nothing is ever what it seems, nothing is ever black and white, unified the components of the installation. J’Accuse also functions as a visual wordplay, a comment on the political climate of today, where fear, suspicion and calculated spin make it difficult to present the truth in anything other than a spectrum of greys. At the opening, there was a live performance of harpsichord music composed by Henry Purcell and Georg Friderich Händel played on synthesizers. The entire L’Aurore newspaper of January 18th 1898, in which Zola’s article features, was reprinted in the occasion of the exhibition. In addition, a black and white picture disc was pressed with pieces for the harpsichord by Henry Purcell.

Pressrelease from the exhibition
J'Accuse
South London Gallery, London, 2005
Installation view, Stage, with keyboards, loudspeakers and turntable 450 cm x 550 x 285 cm.
Photo: Marcus Leith
J'Accuse
South London Gallery, London, 2005
Installation view, vitrine, wig, money.
Photo: Marcus Leith
J'accuse, 2 Hour Synthesizer performance during the opening.
Playlist; Music for Harpsichord by Henry Purcell & Georg Friderich Händel.

J'Accuse
South London Gallery, London, 2005


J'Accuse

The Mineral Judges
Filmed action at the river bank of the Thames, with Svend Erik Albrethsen, Mike Nelson and Cerith Wyn Evans. Cinematography: Jeremy Millar