On March 12 and 13, 2002 the Musée d’art contemporain will be presenting the 14th Max and Iris Stern International Symposium, Terror Contagion, which will explore themes addressed in the exhibition of the same name presently on view at the MAC. Taking projects by the London-based research collective Forensic Architecture and the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras as its starting point, the event will bring together activists and journalists who have been targeted by the NSO Group’s Pegasus malware, along with opponents of digital surveillance and political violence (lawyers, information technology researchers, members of human rights organizations). Participants will also reflect on the emergence of a forensic aesthetic in contemporary art practices and the role of the museum as a civic forum.  

With Ronald Deibert, Santiago Aguirre Espinosa, Carmen Aristegui, Shalini Gera, Shawan Jabarin, Emanuel Licha, Alaa Mahajna, Eitay Mack, Laura Poitras, John Scott-Railton, Charles Stankievech, Lisa Stuckey, Eyal Weizman and other guests.

Please note that owing to the current public health situation, the symposium will take place entirely online.

Download the program


Saturday March 12: 

Opening Remarks and Keynote Lecture

2:00 p.m. (EST)

  • John Zeppetelli, Director and chief curator, MAC
  • François LeTourneux, Curator and head of public programs, MAC

Ronald Deibert, Director, Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Ronald Deibert on the NSO group, cybersurveillance and the global escalation of digital violence, and on Citizen Lab’s collaboration with Forensic Architecture.

Sunday March 13: 

Panel 1Civil Society and Cybersurveillance

10 a.m. (EDT)

Human rights defenders from around the world speak about their experiences with Pegasus and state surveillance, and examine the impact of cybersurveillance on the work of global civil society.

  • Carmen Aristegui, Journalist (Mexico City)
  • Shalini Gera, Human rights lawyer (Chhattisgarh)
  • Laura Poitras, Filmmaker, producer, journalist (New York City)

Panel 2 Investigating Digital Violence

11 a.m. (EDT)

Lead investigators of the NSO Group’s Pegasus malware speak about the proliferation of cyberweapons, available tools for documenting cybersurveillance and the global landscape of accountability for this rising form of state violence.

  • Santiago Aguirre Espinosa, Director, Centro Prodh (Mexico)
  • John Scott-Railton, Senior researcher, Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
  • Eyal Weizman, Founder and director, Forensic Architecture (London)

Break 12 p.m. (EDT)

Panel 3 Digital Occupation: From Walls to Firewalls

12:30 p.m. (EDT)

Legal experts and investigators of human rights violations and surveillance in Palestine discuss the NSO Group as part of an ecosystem of Israeli cyber-weapons that have been exported to other governments around the world.

  • Shawan Jabarin, General director, Al-Haq Legal Center (Ramallah)
  • Eitay Mack, Human rights lawyer (Jerusalem)
  • Alaa Mahajna, Human rights lawyer (Jerusalem)

Panel 4  Investigative Practices in Contemporary Art: The Exhibition as Forum

1:30 p.m. (EDT)

Artists and curators discuss the possible uses of exhibitions for investigative practices, as well as the social, political and activist role of art institutions that present them.

  • Emanuel Licha, Artist and documentary filmmaker, associate professor, Art History and Film Studies, Université de Montréal
  • Charles Stankievech, Artist, associate professor in the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto
  • Lisa Stuckey, Independent cultural theorist and art critic (Vienna)