Johannah Latchem is an artist and academic researcher. She completed her PhD in Fine Art / Art History, co-supervised in History, at Newcastle University and previously trained at Goldsmiths College University of London and Wimbledon School of Art. She is a Visiting Academic at Oxford University in the Centre for Socio-legal Studies. Prior to this she was a Research Fellow on the Arts and Humanities Research Council Commons and held posts in research and teaching positions in UK universities, including digital projects across business, academic and cultural sectors and research with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has lectured in art and design, published in the field of identity and museum education and directed an opera with Birmingham Opera Company and the BBC.
Johannah makes installations in museums and public sites using mixed media, sculpture and sound. Her practice-led PhD focused on the subject of courtrooms, maritime law and power. The courtroom object at the centre of her research was the Admiralty’s silver oar. It has its origins in the earliest admiralty court, during the reign of King Edward III in the 1360s. It was the only courtroom object processed to the gallows and it is still processed and displayed in courtrooms in the UK and globally today. Her works intervene in the material culture of the courthouse to highlight the object and its role in embodied courtroom performativities, challenging the existing role of the courthouse ritual involving the silver oar and exposing the need for new rituals to convey revised messages to the public. Johannah gathered data on courtroom acoustics and revealed how the architecture and acoustics of the historic court silenced, or facilitated, those involved in judicial processes. These datasets, along with visualisations of the sound movement within the space and archival research, were employed as a source for producing site-specific artwork. Her work raises issues that resonate with wider public concerns today on the administration of fear by the state, punishment, and silencing the female voice. Her academic work also examines issues of representation and responsibility in contemporary public art in the courthouse and the woman’s voice in sites of law and order. Other research interests include law and gender, legal theory, law and ritual, feminism and criminal justice, courtroom architecture acoustics and power, state processions and public punishment.