Research Handbook on Art and Law
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Research Handbook on Art and Law

Edited by Jani McCutcheon and Fiona McGaughey

Featuring international contributions from leading and emerging scholars, this innovative Research Handbook presents a panoramic view of how law sees visual art, and how visual art sees law. It resists the conventional approach to art and law as inherently dissonant – one a discipline preoccupied with rationality, certainty and objectivity; the other a creative enterprise ensconced in the imaginary and inviting multiple, unique and subjective interpretations. Blending these two distinct disciplines, this unique Research Handbook bridges the gap between art and law.
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Chapter 15: Lady injustice: inequality and legal iconography

Ben Wardle

Abstract

Drawing on the work of Slavoj _i_ek, this chapter investigates the relationships between legal art and ideological beliefs. Following _i_ek, it is argued that belief is not something internal and individual as one might think but is rather formed and manifested in external physical forms. This chapter critically examines the role Lady Justice plays in permeating the values necessary to sustain systemic inequality. By personifying justice in the style of ancient gods and angels, Lady Justice can cast human-made legal concepts and procedures in an eternal and cosmic cloak, making laws integral to systemic exploitation and oppression less likely to be challenged. Lady Justice materialises the ideological concept of ‘formal’ or ‘procedural’ justice and in doing so provides a basis for belief in this ideological concept that relies on metaphysics to cast the privileged and persecuted as equal under law. The chapter concludes by considering alternative artistic depictions of Lady Justice that impress upon people the great need to overcome the inequalities present in liberal democracies.

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