'The Intel - Cyprus Merger' showed how the world's first merger of a country and a corporation might be possible, and advantageous for both parties. Moreover through the execution of due diligence, stakeholder engagement and communication, how such a merger could be enacted responsibly, and in the best interests of both, or how at least it might appear so.
At first sight, Zoe Papadopoulou''s new project is challenging and absurd, but dig deeper and you'll see how thought provoking it is. This is especially true, in the light of impending economic bailout measures being forced upon Greece, and how the Greek government has indeed found itself looking to corporations to buy assets from the State.
Merger was born in February 2008, in response to a brief at the Royal College of Art on 'The Future of Money' sponsored by Intel's People and Practices Research Group. Zoe reappraised the project for the ongoing Paris Design Week.
Merger, is told through a video in which a fictional character, Anna Rodgers, the director of overseas acquisitions at Mackenzie M&A, presents an overview of how and why the Merger came to be to other interested parties. She also describes how the merged corporation and country have generated economic and democratic benefits to both parties and turned around the fortunes of a nation. The project allows the viewer to ask why Intel might see an opportunity in Cyprus - a small island-state, with strong historic links to Greece, but with a separate economy.
Cyprus decided to take advantage of the EU precedent created by UK's Olympic and Paralympic Act in 2006, which made the words "London 2012" and "2012" protected trademarks, along with the name of the official LOCOG website, and "various derivatives". The Olympics were created in Greece, so Cyprus starts to protect the revenue made from products and services borne out of the inventions of the ancient Greeks.
That's where Intel, which built their revenue in no small part through protecting the Intellectual Property of their developments, intervenes. In this scenario, Intel would bring their expertise and lawyers, and look at every single aspect of modern life (from architecture to urban planning, from language to technological inventions) that borrow from Greek inventions, and claim a bounty from each. In so doing they create a sustained income stream that sees the Cypriots be the exemplar of economic growth, at odds with the fortunes of the rest of Europe.
By highlighting the ease with which the UK Government and the International Olympic Association use their power to protect something that originated in Greece, this project asks, with Intel's might, if the Island of Cyprus could challenge and regain their past glory and wealth.
Not content with protecting revenue, Merger also aims to revisit and update one of the Greek's most widely-adopted inventions - democracy.
Merger highlights the current lack of trust in politicians and in Governments too slow to tackle adequately the significant challenges that countries and their populations face. Surely this lack of responsiveness would not be tolerated in the corporate world. The lady in the video explains that Cypriots didn't want a Prime Minister or a President. They wanted a CEO, a businessman that would run the country like a successful company. I bet the Italians who now have a 'successful businessman' as their head of State would beg Cyprus to be very cautious about their choice.
Merger proposes a Real Time Democracy model that allows Cypriots to track how their Government is doing 24/7 - on a collection of metrics including the share price of Intel - which they now all, each, own a share in. One man, one vote becomes 'one man, one share.'
In the three years since Merger, this project proposed that the Cypriots and Intel have built the world's biggest monument to commemorate their union. The Antikytheran Monument, in the centre of the capital city Nicosia, recognises another Greek invention - the Antikythera Mechanism; the world's first computer designed between 150 and 100 BC to calculate astronomical positions.
This also reveals why Intel has gone to all the effort of merging with a country, that they could buy piece by piece if they had chosen to. In this brave new world, Intel owns the rights to all computers - their entire supply chain and competitors.
With this project, Zoe Papadopoulou questioned, via the power Intel and Cyprus yield as a result, what might be the implications of a "merger" of a corporation and a state. She also invites the public to question if this one day might be possible, or if by stealth it was an inevitable part of our futures.
Finally, the future of this project will be to curate an exhibition based on the evolution of this new national entity that further explores the changes it is likely to undertake in the next 20, 30 or 50 years. This will not only be considered from a design perspective but also a philosophical one with the help of Greek Cultural theorist and essayist Elia Ntaousani.
While i was in Nottingham for the Making Future Work events, i decided to take the bus to Derby and check out All that Fits: The Aesthetics of Journalism at QUAD. The exhibition postulates that art and journalism are two sides of a unique activity; the production and distribution of images and information.
Whereas journalism provides a view on the world, as it 'really' is, art often presents a view on the view, as an act of reflection.
The first part of the exhibition title, All that Fits, points directly to the New York Times' moto "All the News That's Fit to Print." It asks us to think about what becomes of the information that doesn't fit into the format or the agenda of a media outlet. Some of it is cut and customized to fit, some of it simply vanishes. But the information that doesn't fit can also become the material and topic of artworks. And this is just as well since our faith in the impartiality and reliability of journalism has eroded over the past few years. At the same time, more artists have included activities such as inquiring, reporting and documenting into their portfolio while admitting that they are not bound by the same 'reality' constraints as journalists.
The works selected for the exhibition blend aesthetics and conceptual techniques we expect from artists with the methods and protocols that characterize the journalistic practice. They question the information rather than deliver it.
All that Fits: The Aesthetics of Journalism unfolds over three chapters: The Speaker, The Image and The Militant. The Speaker focused on the speaking subject or author, also in terms of editorial processes and camera angles. What can enable a subject to appear as authentic, authoritative and truthful? The Image examined how images are produced, through framing and positioning, but also how counter-images are created. Despite the claim of neutrality and pragmatism, this chapter proposes an 'aesthetics of journalism'.
The third show opened yesterday. The Militant, continues the strand of counter-images, but by using journalistic means such as exposé and research. These methods often work to uncover what a corporate media industry does not, and thus return to some of reportage's initial claims. Since the three shows overlap in content, with most works participating to 2 of the 3 chapters, i thought i'd fuse the three chapters into one post that looks more generally at the contemporary production of truth.
According to Adam Broomberg, "Photojournalism cannot be radical because it has to work within familiar patterns. It is politically ineffectual. Now museums and galleries are actually the place of radical, political work." Together with Oliver Chanarin, he has been taking a lateral approach to documentary photography and information. For the Chicago series, for example, the duo has chose to stay "away from those immediate, heart-tugging images that suggest social concern" and focused instead on how the mechanism of the state worked.
Chicago is a fake Arab town built in the middle of the Negev desert by the Israeli Defense Force for urban combat training. "Everything that happened happened here first, in rehearsal". All wars led and to be led by Israel in the future are practiced in the streets of Chicago, where the only human traces are photographs of Arab militia used for target practice. During the war in Lebanon, its labyrinth of streets and alleys were adorned with abandoned cars, imitating areas of Beirut. During the first and second intifada its concrete walls were covered with Arabic graffiti reminiscent of Gaza city, and an additional area was constructed to simulate the refugee camps of the occupied territories. During the first Gulf war American Special Forces had their first taste of the Middle East in Chicago in the Israeli desert.
In a carefully staged composition/scene, soldiers are pointing their heavy weapons at civilians, a mother is crying over a child that lays dead in her arms, other dead bodies are scattered around, there are traces of an explosion and tension is everywhere you look. Except maybe right between a menacing soldier and a civilian where a cameraman is quietly recording the scene.
In The Dreadful Details, Eric Baudelaire conveniently juxtaposed all the moments we expect to see in a war photo. The photo documents as much as it fakes a situation of war. Even the set is not genuine. It was created by a designer who has never set a foot in Iraq, his only cues were photographs from Time magazine.
The most puzzling work in the exhibition is Oliver Ressler's video The Fittest Survive. Actually it is not so much the video itself that is bizarre but its subject. The film follows the five-day course Surviving Hostile Regions done in January 2006 in Wales. The instructors, hired by a privately-owned security enterprise, are British ex-special force soldiers. The participants are businessmen, government officials and mainstream journalists who are put through conflict-situations in order to be ready for business in Iraq and other dangerous areas "that might otherwise have been closed to opportunity."
The camera follows the participants as they experience the staged reality of live shell bombardments, an assault by armed guerrillas, the rescue of accident victims, and moving through mine fields.
As curator Elena Sorokina explained during her interview with the artist, The video brings attention to the current militarisation of businesses, and, less directly, to the increasing involvement of private business in warfare.
Unfortunately, i didn't get to see the film Elimina, a totally Ghanaian production that stars the white American artist Douglas Fishbone. The film was scripted and shot by a leading Ghanaian production team, with a cast of Ghanaian celebrities. No reference is ever made of the fact that the artist clearly doesn't belong in the movie. The project continues Fishbone's investigation into the relativity of perception and understanding, pushing what audiences expect as the acceptable limits of role and representation in film.
The film will be released as a low-cost mass-market DVD and VCD in Africa and on African immigrant markets, The rest of us will be able to buy it as a limited edition in the art world.
Fishbone talks about his new Elimina to Tate.
At the entrance of the exhibition, right by the ticket office, the curators have hung Insurance.AES256 by Michael Takeo Magruder, a project reflecting on issues of information freedom and secrecy in today's media landscape. insurance.aes256 is the name of an insurance file released by WikiLeaks last year in connection with the Afghan War Diary disclosure. The insurance file was 20 times larger than the 77,000 secret U.S. military documents about Afghanistan that the non-profit organization had already published. The file generated considerable speculation and debate as no official explanation was given about its contents or purpose. Moreover, cryptographers declared that the file was virtually impossible to crack.
Alejandro Vidal's Somewhere in a Great Country is a series of video-captures found on the internet. Because they are devoid of any human presence and feature explosions, we are led to believe that the images document car bombings, acts of sabotage, war scenes, etc. In reality, they only record the moment when fireworks are used during celebrations of independence, festivals and political rallies.
Art & Agenda - Political Art and Activism, edited by Robert Klanten, Matthias Hübner, Alain Bieber, Pedro Alonzo, Gregor Jansen. With essays by Pedro Alonzo, Alain Bieber, Silke Krohn (available on amazon USAand UK.)
Publisher Gestalten writes: Life has become significantly more political in the new millennium, especially in the aftermath of worldwide financial crisis. Art is both driving and documenting this upheaval. Increasingly, new visual concepts and commentaries are being used to represent and communicate emotionally charged topics, thereby bringing them onto local political and social agendas in a way far more powerful than words alone.
This book explores the current interrelationship between art, activism, and politics. It presents new visual concepts and commentaries that are being used to represent and communicate emotionally charged topics, thereby bringing them onto local political and social agendas in a way far more powerful than words alone. It looks at how art is not only reflecting and setting agendas, but also how it is influencing political reaction. Consequently, Art & Agenda is not only a perceptive documentation of current urban interventions, installations, performances, sculptures, and paintings by more than 100 young and established artists, but also points to future forms of political discourse.
Art & Agenda - Political Art and Activism is just one in a long list of books that demonstrate that, among all the publishers focusing on visual culture, Gestalten is probably the fastest at identifying and catching trends.
The artists represented in the book all have some kind of social commentary about the world that surrounds them. Their work conveys a message, a critique, an opinion. Sometimes also a provocation. Their work is socially-engaged art but i would not always define it as activism.
As much as i admire the work Maurizio Cattelan, Elmgreen & Dragset, Tom Sachs, or Kara Walker, i had never associated it with activism. What they do is ballsy, it's socially-engaged and adequately thought-provoking but i'm not sure i find it as efficient as the work of Packard Jennings, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Conflict Kitchen, The Yes Men, Superflex, or Ai Weiwei who seem to engage more closely with the public. They operate outside institutions when needed, take risks and are actively involved in trying to bring social change. I see them as the real agitators, the activists with a capital A.
All i can advise is to get your hands on the book and see for yourself. I wouldn't mind being contradicted on this topic.
One of the main strengths of the book is the incredibly broad array of political art it showcases, from the poetical and subtle urban interventions of Roland Ross to The Yes Men's media hacks, from Tom Sachs' stunning works for white cube galleries to JR's street interventions.
The other force of the book is a series of long essays by curators and art critics such as Alain Bieber (author of one of my favourite blogs, rebel:art and project manager of ARTE creative) and Boston-based curator Pedro Alonzo.
A few examples of the works you'll meet in the book:
Julien Berthier's Love Love sinking boat. The artist actually cut a sailboat in half, sealed it with fiberglass, fitted it with two motors and a new keel which make it fully functional. I'm not sure i understand what's political in this work but i'm glad i discovered it in the book.
Russia's culture minister didn't appreciate the "political provocation" of Blue Noses Group's Kissing Policemen (An Epoch of Clemency). The Banksi-inspired photo was banned from traveling to Paris for an exhibition of contemporary Russian art.
During two years, Roland Roos repaired broken, displaced or damaged things he encountered in public space. He took before and after photos of the unsolicited repairs and sold them for 320CHF each which is the average amount of money that is spent for one repair (materials and labor).
GUARANA POWER is a soft drink developed by a farming cooperative in Maues, Brazil in collaboration with the Superflex collective. The drink contains guarana, a plant native to the Amazon whose fruit has long been harvested by indigenous communities for its medicinal and invigorating properties. The farmers have had to organize themselves against a cartel of corporation whose monopoly on purchase of the raw material has driven the price paid for guaraná seeds down by 80% while the cost of their products to the consumer has risen. Besides, the beverage these companies sells is only a sugary, diluted energy drink. GUARANÁ POWER attempts to use the strategies of global brands as raw material for a counter-economic position, to preserve local economy and the livelihoods of the farmers and to reclaim the original use of the Maués guaraná plant as a powerful natural tonic.
Gregor Schneider's cells on Sydney's famous Bondi Beach questions "the ideal of a casual, egalitarian leisure-loving society", while evoking strongly another famous location by the ocean: Guantanamo Bay.
For one of their most recent radical performances, Palace Revolution, members of the Voina collective overturned seven police cars, some of them with officers inside, at St Petersburg's Palace Square. They called it an 'art installation.' Russian authorities were not impressed and arrested two of them. They were released on bail after but the charges still stand.
Parking For White Cars Only! The title of Helmut Smits' piece says it all. A guard made sure that the best parking-spots were accessible to white cars only.
The artist pushed the provocation even further with Photo Tip , an installation which allows people to be portrayed as a hostage flanked by threatening terrorists.
Czech guerrilla artist collective Ztohoven gained fame in June 2007 when they hacked into a weather forecast on national tv and inserted a digital image of a nuclear explosion on a live panoramic shot of the Krkonoše Mountains. Their intention was to point to the distorted view of reality in the media. Several members of the collective were prosecuted for scaremongering and spreading false information but the judge dismissed the scaremongering charges against the artists, citing public amusement rather than public unrest.
More recently, the artists altered photos of themselves using morphing and applied for new ID cards using these fake pictures. Over the course of six months they used the IDs to travel abroad and vote, and one of them even got married. The whole project was presented at a gallery in Prague under the name Občan K. ("Citizen K.") The performance was a critique of the misuse of personal data and of constant surveillance that sometimes leads to a loss of identity that reduces individuals to numbers. This time again, the action led members of Ztohoven to deep troubles with the police. They were accused of breaching paragraph 181 of the criminal code that states that anybody who damages another person's rights by deliberately misleading them faces up to two years in prison or a ban on their work activity.
kennardphillipps was created in 2002 to produce art in response to the invasion of Iraq. It has evolved to confront power and war across the globe. The photomontage above points to proposals for a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow, a plan pushed forward by Gordon Brown and opposed by Greenpeace.
The Three Gorges Dam project in China is the world's largest capacity hydroelectric power station with a total generating capacity of 18,200 MW. However, its construction flooded archaeological and cultural sites and displaced some 1.3 million people, and is causing significant ecological changes.
Artist Yang Yi went to his hometown just before it was completely submerged and documented the remaining scenery before it disappeared. Using both photography and digital techniques, Yang Yi's Uprooted series depict a ghost town engulfed by water, whose inhabitants go about their daily lives wearing snorkels.
Views inside the book:
Level 2 Gallery is a small exhibition space that keeps me coming back to Tate Modern in London. Its entrance is hidden by one of the exits of the Tate and if you don't know of its existence you've probably passed by it on your way from the shop to the Millennium Bridge without noticing.
The gallery is now showing Out of Place, an exhibition in which four artists explore the relationship between political forces and personal/collective histories by looking at urban space, architectural structures and the condition of displacement.
Each of the artist is interesting in their own way but i'll focus on only two of them:
Hrair Sarkissian's large prints from the In Between series grab the visitor's attention as soon as they enter the main exhibition room. Sarkissian is a Syrian artist of Armenian origin. He learnt of Armenia through family stories of a great and proud 'Mother Armenia'. But once he actually visited this former republic of the Soviet Union, the artist found it hard to reconcile the ideals of the Armenian diaspora with the landscapes and situations he encountered.
His photos show austere Soviet-style buildings left abandoned in the quiet hills and valleys of rural Armenia.
As Kasia Redzisz wrote in her essay for the exhibition, The incompatibility of his relatives' memories and the physical reality of the ruins of the Soviet empire caused him to experience profound disorientation. In his series In Between 2007, Sarkissian juxtaposes abandoned, monumental constructions and the epic unchanging landscape. The contrast poses a question about the foundations on which national or cultural identity can be built.
Ahlam Shibli takes on an entirely different subject.
Her series Goter looks at the lives of Palestinians of Bedouin descent from al-Naqab (Negev). Local people believe that the word 'goter' is derived from 'go there', a command British soldiers often shouted to Bedouins during the mandate (1920-1948.)
Shibli's images were taken both in townships, constructed by the Israeli administration to coral Palestinians displaced from their lands, and in unrecognised villages inhabited by those who refuse to be relocated, controlled and dispossessed of their traditional land.
The photographer explains in her statement for the series: The remaining half of the Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab has so far refused to move to these townships, to avoid losing their lands and being subjected to culturally adverse and socially degrading living conditions. They live in more than 100 unrecognized villages, where the laws of the Jewish State prohibit them from building permanent structures, where houses are regularly demolished, fields deemed illegal by the authorities sprayed with toxic chemicals, families evicted from their homes, and where there is no public access to electricity, running water, or public services such as health care, sanitation and education beyond primary school level.
"We should transform the Bedouins into an urban proletariat - in industry, services, construction, and agriculture. 88% of the Israeli population are not farmers, let the Bedouin be like them. Indeed, this will be a radical move which means that the Bedouin would not live on his land with his herds, but would become an urban person who comes home in the afternoon and puts his slippers on. His children will get used to a father who wears pants, without a dagger, and who does not pick out their nits in public. They will go to school, their hair combed and parted. This will be a revolution, but it can be achieved in two generations."
Dayan added, "Without coercion but with governmental direction ... this phenomenon of the Bedouins will disappear."
Shibli is showing a second series at Gallery 2. The Valley explores conditions in the village Arab al-Shibli, where Palestinians living under Israeli jurisdiction face relocation from their land.
Btw, if you're interested in knowing more about the history and current situation of the Bedouins, have a look at Unrecognized. This short doc by Nirah Elyza Shirazipour) chronicles the last 60 years of Bedouin life in the Naqab.
un-titled magazine has a set of photos from the Goter series.
Out of Place is curated by Kasia Redzisz and Ala' Younis and remains open at Tate Modern's Level 2 Gallery until April 17, 2011.
Previously at Level 2 Gallery: The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one's own.
NAI Publishers and V2_ say: Modernist belief was informed by the vision of technology as a tool of reduction, purifying nature from a state of randomness into one of cleansed controllability and perfection. It was not just the art of modernism that was all about purity and the search for abstraction, the same logic and politics of purity were also at work in rationalized agriculture, refined food, urban planning, population control, and the experience of the Other, both as the goal and the legitimization of the means to reach that goal. With amazing, world changing consequences - but also with devastating effects for the environment, climate, cultural diversity, biopolitics, and city and country life.
This book investigates this urge for the pure, but also advocates a much deeper need for the impure, not to reinstate a new organicism or back-to-nature movement, but to trace progression to a point where all modernist values reverse, where technology becomes an agent for the impure and the imperfect. Technology, long an agent for homogeneity and purity, is now turning into one for heterogeneity and global contingency.
I've been guilty of a "don't judge a book by its cover' offense. I almost recoiled in horror when i saw the design of The Politics of the Impure. Heavy book, flamboyant design, golden cover. When i finally decided to open the illuminated manuscript, i realized that it was probably the publication most relevant to my interests i could have received this year.
The Politics of the Impure alternates presentations of art works with interviews or essays by thought-provoking thinkers. Their conversations oscillate between the 'right here, right now' and the tomorrow. Whether they are activists, socio-biologists, artists, science-fiction writers or philosophers, the contributors to the book deal with mess in all its guises.
Academic, journalist and activist Raj Patel calls for a more democratic food system which he calls "food sovereignity"; sociologist and economist Gunnar Heinsohn discusses violence, education, integration and lost generations; Arjun Appadurai explores possible ways to deal with intolerance, minorities and fanaticism on a day to day basis; Arjen Mulder investigates what is left of the so-called "European spirit"; artist and architect Lars Spuybroek has an essay about the use, meaning and purpose of ornaments in culture; (controversial) biologist and geologist Lynn Margulis answers questions about bacteria, their creativity, gene exchange and autopoiesis (the whole interview was so fascinating i wish i could copy/paste it here), designer Christian Unverzagt pens the obligatory essay about garbage, except that what he has to say about it is everything but banal; the interview with writer Bruce Sterling drives you from Tokyu Hands department store to Luxembourg, via supervolcanoes and Casablanca. The list of essays and interviews goes on and on.
Each of them is followed by the presentation of an artwork that gives a form to the impurity at the heart of the book. The model is one page of bio and description of the work + a dozen pages of photos to illustrate the piece. There's Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs, Herwig Weiser, P.A.P.A. (Participating Artists Press Agency), Casey Reas, Tord Boontje, Knowbotc Research, Driessens & Verstappen and Wim Delvoye.
This book is exciting every step of the way (except that i clearly don't get its design). You might not agree with every statement and idea put forward by the experts called to participate to The Politics of the Impure but that's what makes the book so engaging. The bold opinions shared in the book are bound to make you put it down and reflect about some of today's most chaotic issues.
Dewi Lewis Publishing writes: For eight years the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba has been home to hundreds of men, all Muslim, all detained in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on suspicion of varying degrees of complicity or intent to carry out acts of terror against American interests. Labeled 'the worst of the worst', most of these men were guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many fell prey to a US military policy of paying bounty money for anyone the Pakistani secret service, border guards or village leaders on both sides of the blurred Afghan-Pakistan border considered a possible or potential 'suspect', thereby becoming currency in the newly defined 'War on Terror'. Held in legal limbo for years and repeatedly interrogated, almost all have been released without charge and only a very few have been tried in the special military commissions set up for the purpose.
Guantanamo: If the light goes out illustrates three experiences of home: at Guantanamo naval base, home to the American community; in the camp complex where the detainees have been held; and in the homes where former detainees, never charged with any crime, find themselves trying to rebuild lives. These notions of home are brought together in an unsettling narrative, which evokes the process of disorientation central to the Guantanamo interrogation and incarceration techniques. It also explores the legacy of disturbance such experiences have in the minds and memories of these men.
Barack Obama promised to close Guantánamo Bay within a year of taking office in January 2009. Two years later, not only is the naval base still open, but the U.S. President has also authorized to resume military trials of terror suspects detained in the infamous detention camp. He has also signed an executive order that moved to set into law the already existing practice on Guantánamo of holding detainees indefinitely without charge.
Guantanamo is the oldest overseas U.S. Navy Base, the only one in a country with which the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations, the only one located in a Communist led country. Gitmo is also the host to Cuba's first and only McDonald's restaurant, a fast food joint not accessible to Cubans though. Since 2002, the naval base has gained the attention of the public for its military prison where persons allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban are incarcerated. The mistreatment of the detainees, and their denial of protection under the Geneva Conventions, has been a source of international controversy.
You have seen the pictures. Inmates wearing orange jumpsuits, long lens views, cages, fences, etc. When he embarked on his project Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out, photographer Edmund Clark knew he didn't want to go that way. He approached Guantanamo through 3 paths: the space where prisoners are confined, the areas where the American military community lives, and the houses where former inmates reside. The images come intermixed. The photo of a a detainee's cell is followed by one of an exercise bar hanging in a home, then comes a view of the prison worship center, then a detail of the naval base museum, a close-up on an interrogator's call button, etc. It's disorienting and aimed at reproducing the physical and mental confusion that the prisoners are made to experience.
But what is most striking in the image is the almost complete absence of human beings. All we have to reconstruct the tension, the narrative, the abuse are mundane objects and spaces.
In Guantanamo, Clark was escorted everywhere he went. He had a list of what he wasn't allowed to photograph. Such as an empty watchtower. Or two watchtowers in the same frame. He also had to switch to digital photography so that his shot could be analyzed at the end of each day. Some had to be deleted. Some were allowed to remind in the memory card after long discussions.
The book also reproduces some of the mail Omar Deghayes and other people received while they were in prison. During the first years, Deghayes didn't receive anything. In 2005, lawyers followed his case and letters started arriving. He didn't get to see the original letters. All he had were photocopied of the censored version of the letters, drawings and postcards, with a stamp "Approved by US Forces."
Deghayes (who lost sight of his right eye after a guard stuck a finger in his eye) also helped Clark photograph the homes of former prisoners.
Apart from the photos, the book contains three essays. The one written by Julian Stallabrass is particularly fascinating with its focus the legal, historical and political context of the detention center. His text reminds us as well that prisoners at Guantanamo might be abused, tortured and humiliated on a daily basis but at least they have a name which brings them under a limited protection that the unidentified people detained in the US black sites can only dream of.
The photographs from the Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out series are touring art spaces. I saw them back in November in London at Flowers East Gallery. The gallery had also dedicated a small space to listen to the music played at Gitmo and other military prisons during interrogations and to cause sleep deprivation. Then i saw the photos again in February as part of the exhibition Mutations III, at the Berlinische Galerie, in Berlin. I'm glad the book gave me another opportunity to spend some time with these images.
'When you are suspended by a rope you can recover, but every time I see a rope I remember. If the light goes out unexpectedly in a room, I am back in my cell.'
More on the project mini website, Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out and at Lens Culture.
Related book review: Book Review - Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret.