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ELO 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature

Inside the Distance

Sharon Daniel (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA)

Interventions: Engaging the Body Politic
Friday, August 7 • 17:30 - 18:30 (Visningsrommet USF)

In boxing “the distance” refers to the scheduled length of a fight, 9 rounds or 12. For the boxer, as for all of us, the goal is to stay standing, inside the distance.

Inside the Distance – a web documentary and an installation with video and a touch-screen interactive interface –  documents victim/offender mediation practices in Belgium, where Restorative Justice is institutionalized within the criminal justice system. The project examines how mediation poses a potential cultural alternative to dominant modes and theories of retributive justice and punishment. The interactive interface, which includes interviews with Mediators, Criminologists, Victims and Offenders conducted in Leuven and Brussels, focuses on the subject positions of victim, offender and mediator and the notion that those subject positions are fluid.

The content of the project is organized into three parts: 

  • “The Accounts” – presents the narratives of mediation cases as described in interviews with Mediators.
  • “The Positions” – addresses the instability of subject positions – as articulated by Victims, offenders and mediators
  • “The Spaces” – takes up the ethical, theoretical, and discursive space of justice and punishment in statements made by mediators, psychologists and criminologists.

The mediators interviewed for this project described how mediations almost always begin with a focus on the details – victims and offenders wanting to confirm each others’ understanding of what happened – who was hurt and how – followed by attempts to find some way to understand why. Inside the Distance stages reenactments of this encounter as described by victims, offenders and mediators. It explores the subject position of each party – and the many ways in which those positions are fluid. Within the project, the space of mediation, the mediation table, is represented as a boundary object – a place of cooperation without consensus. Criminal acts are rents in the fabric of the social order – expressions of something that doesn’t fit. At some level, at some moment, we are all victims - we are all offenders.

Inside the Distance is a co-production by LINC-KU Leuven, STUK Arts Centre, Courtisane, University of California Santa Cruz, European Forum for Restorative Justice, Suggonomè – Flemish Mediation Service, and funded by OPAK (Belgium/EU).

Documentation of the project installation can be found at   

The online version of the project can be found at


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