In his twenty-fifth artist’s book, Volker Renner adapts the courtroom drama genre. On the movie screen, the latter is defined by its heavy reliance on dialogue; Renner, by contrast, lets the pictures speak. And it was images, not words, that moved the millions who, through twenty-five days of proceedings, seized on the opportunity to watch the livestream of the trial pitting Johnny Depp against Amber Heard on Court TV, YouTube, or various other social media channels. Both the ex–husband and wife’s media-savvy self-dramatization and the viewers’ reactions and comments grew to hitherto unseen dimensions. The two actors’ private lives were staged for all to see, reality-show-style, as though as based on a secret screenplay. In “Ein Prozess,” Volker Renner now opens the pages of that storyboard.
Each day of the hearings and trial in 2021 and 2022 is the subject of a dedicated chapter in which the artist has the principal characters appear in film stills he extracted from the recordings from the trial. Hewing to a rigorously documentary approach, he compiles a visual transcript of the presentation of evidence, making it accessible to a discourse analysis that, in the Foucauldian tradition, investigates not just language but above all the language of images. Even the allegation that prompted the trial concerned the damage to a star’s public image, rather than a truth that could be borne out by evidence: more than anything else, it is images that are seen and read today and that, in being seen and read, exert the greatest power imaginable in the struggle over what is right and fair. The jury agreed with a public majority in finding in Johnny Depp’s favor. A matter of performance?
J O H N C . D E P P , I I v. A M B E R L A U R A H E A R D
was a trial held in Fairfax County, Virginia, from April 11, 2022, to June 1, 2022, that ruled on allegations of defamation between formerly married American actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Depp, as plaintiff, filed a complaint of defamation against defendant Heard claiming $50 million in damages; Heard filed counterclaims against Depp claiming $100 million in damages.
D E P P V. H E A R D
Court Fairfax County Circuit Court Full case name John C. Depp, II v. Amber Laura Heard Started April 11, 2022 Decided June 1, 2022 Verdict.
Heard was found liable in all three matters of defamation raised. Depp was awarded $10 million (of the $50 million claim) in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages (reduced to $350,000 per state law limit).
Depp was found liable in one of three matters of defamation raised and Heard was awarded $2 million (of the $100 million claim) in compensatory damages. Court membershipJudge(s) sitting Penney S. Azcarate (Bruce D. White ruled on pre-trial motions).
Witness lists were submitted by both parties, prior to trial. Witness testimony began on April 12, following the parties’ presentation of their opening statements, and ended on May 26.