Johannah Latchem is an artist and academic researcher in legal studies. Her works address themes of law, punishment and power. They intervene in the material culture of the courthouse to establish new rituals that inform public understandings of the law. The creation of new artworks and their role in courtroom performativities challenges the validity of existing courthouse rituals, and exposes the need for new ones to convey revised messages to the public.
Johannah’s practice-based PhD at Newcastle University focused on the subject of courtrooms, maritime law and power. Data gathered on courtroom acoustics revealed how the architecture and acoustics of the court silenced, or facilitated, those involved in judiciary processes. She previously studied at Goldsmiths College, University of London. At the Department of Socio-legal Studies, Oxford University, her research focuses on aspects of the criminal justice system particularly journeys into court, and UK artists working with the locus of the law. Prior to this she was 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 been a lecturer, published internationally and directed an opera with Birmingham Opera Company and the BBC. 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. Johannah also makes installations in museums and public sites related to the law using mixed media, sculpture and sound.
Other research interests: law and gender and criminal justice; equality and the law and women’s rights; legal theory; law and ritual; courtroom architecture acoustics and power; state processions and public punishment. 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.