No Such Organisation (2018-2020) is a series of one hundred paintings that document the fallout from a single event: the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. This cycle of paintings follows the repercussions of this event in real time, through the news articles and the investigations it triggered, confronting the development of cyber weapons and spyware, and the ways in which they have compromised the safety and working conditions of journalists, activists and political dissidents throughout the world.
The reporting of the death of Khashoggi changed radically during the first days and weeks following the event; a kaleidoscope of tumbling details constantly re-arranging themselves, a story that never quite settled, in facts, or in responsibility. The paintings respond to this uncertainty by deploying symbolic elements which stand in for players in the story – nation states, agencies, technologies, and – which shift, recompose, and come into new alignments with each retelling of the story.
Significantly, the case remains without a central visual figure, as the body of Khashoggi was never recovered, while sound and silence played a key role in the case, as a recording from the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul circulated in the media. Into this absence of images, Khan-Dossos inscribes a hundred tracings of the event.
As the narrative of the killing expanded over the subsequent months, so the subjects of the paintings branch out to cover wider issues raised by this case, in particular the role of surveillance technologies sold by private companies to governments for domestic and international use in matters of security and intelligence, with little oversight. However, a critical stance is now developing around the ethics of such tools of surveillance, and the paintings explore these changes in awareness, campaigning and attitudes towards the role of cyber weapons in global politics.
The one hundred paintings that comprise this project are each one metre square, gouache on paper, created between 2018 and 2020.
These works were created in response to news articles that emerged over the two years following the disappearance of Jamal Kashoggi in October 2018. Each painting takes the salient themes of an article, and uses the symbols that characterize these themes to create a visual language through which to re-present the facts of the article in a visual form.
This decision came about in a response to the lack of images used in the articles to illustrate what was happening. As the story emerged and changed the paintings also change, but retain the same icons throughout in order to illuminate the thread of the narrative, encompassing different forms of technology; different individuals; nation states; law enforcement agencies; and human rights organisations.
Using the idea of a quilting pattern, all of the paintings follow the same basic framework, so that different connections can be made between the pieces allowing the work to be re-organised along different lines and in different configurations. The works function on an individual level as stand alone pieces, but also as groups, series, and in their fullness, an installation of all one hundred works forming a single picture of the investigation and its ramifications.
Navine G Khan-Dossos (b. 1982, London) is a visual artist working between London and Athens. Her interests include Orientalism in the digital realm, geometry as information and decoration, image calibration, and Aniconism in contemporary culture. She has developed a form of geometric abstraction that merges the traditional Aniconism of Islamic art with the algorithmic nature of the interconnected world we live in. Previous bodies of work have explored counter-extremist policy, the role of women in the discourse of terrorism, and the propaganda of jihad.
This website was developed with the support and assistance of Jake Rees Charles and The Centre for Investigative Journalism, Anastasia Perahia, Phil Gyford and James Bridle.
Special thanks to Sara Huws and Rectangle Design.
All photographs of the work were taken by, and should be credited to, Yiannis Hadjiaslanis.