Welcome to Camp America, Inside Guantánamo Bay Exhibition
"a subtly layered study of an important chapter in American history. Intermingling investigative reporting with fine art aesthetics, her images constantly walk a knife-edge of interpretation, each a test of vantage point and state of mind, and it is this openness that makes the exhibit so thought-provoking and compelling." —Collector Daily.
*Winner of the inaugural Fotofest Charles Jing Fellowship 2018 (Juried exhibition prize).
January 11, 2018 marked the 16th anniversary of the opening of the first “War on Terror” prison at the United States Naval Station in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (known as “Gitmo” after its military call letters, GTMO). Conceptual documentary artist and former civil rights lawyer Debi Cornwall’s exhibition plumbs the familiar in this state of exception, marrying empathy and dark humor with systemic critique. The exhibition was shown in 2017 at the BMW Photo Space of the GoEun Museum of Photography (Korea) and the Centre de la Photographie Genève (Switzerland), and is packaged for shipping to the next European venue. The U.S. exhibition debuted at the Steven Kasher Gallery (NYC) in 2017 and opens at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center on June 14, 2018.
This exhibition investigates the human experience of Gitmo for both prisoners and guards, through their residential and leisure spaces (Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play series), and gift-shop souvenirs (Gitmo on Sale series). Of the 780 "detainees" held there, the vast majority have been cleared and released, returning home or transferred to third countries. In the Beyond Gitmo series, Cornwall collaborates with 14 former prisoners in nine countries, from Albania to Qatar, plus a former guard, to make environmental portraits replicating, in the free world, the military’s “no faces” rule. Read reviews in Libération (France), Le Courrier (Switzerland), WOZ (Switzerland), & Sajinyesul (Korea).
Programming: This work addresses universal questions about justice, rights, security and humanity in the post-September 11 era. Community programming may be planned in collaboration with the artist, who draws on her background as a civil rights lawyer and trained mediator to engage local audiences alongside a network of experts with personal experience on both sides of the wire.
Available for display: Up to 60 prints (31 framed & crated in the U.S., 150 linear feet), the acclaimed book, Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantánamo Bay (Radius, 2017), with unique design, text in English and Arabic, essays by releasee Moazzam Begg, scholar/critic Fred Ritchin, and Cornwall; a sound installation in collaboration with poet Frank Smith; a 4-minute video; gift-shop souvenirs; and archival material including vintage postcards & once-classified government documents.
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