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From Thomas Mailaender’s book ‘Illustrated People’ which won the Paris Photo+ Aperture Foundation Award for “Photobook of the Year 2015”

THREE WEEKS AFTER THE PARIS ATTACKS, I’D LIKE TO SAY THESE THINGS

Paris Photo 2015 will be remembered for reasons we never wanted.

Photographers went to Paris to see old-friends, hob-nob with moneyed institutions and to blur the lines between work and vacation. Some of them ended up documenting one of recent memory’s worst terror attacks.

Paris Photo opened the doors to the Grand Palais the day before the bombs shook Paris and 130 lives were taken. One of the biggest international photo events on the calendar, artists, publishers, gallerists, collectors and enthusiasts descended on the French capital for four days of viewing, networking, buying and selling.

After the tragic events of November 13th, Paris Photo was cancelled. No one was thinking about art sales. No one was talking about awards. Shuttering the event was the only sensible and respectful decision to make.

As with any massive event, though, the activity and conversation surrounding Paris Photo had long led up to the long-weekend. Check the social media timelines of any of the 147 galleries or the 60,000 visitors to understand anticipation and the pre-sales hype. Paris Photo can be career-defining, it can provide a crucial contact, it might be a platform to test or showcase ideas. And then there’s awards too.

On Thursday November 12th, Aperture announced the winners of the 2015 edition of the Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards.

Some people say the best way to move forward is, after the memorials, to live life as you would. To continue with a full life. I would have written about these awards before the attacks and so now, three weeks on, I feel I should write about them still. I cannot make sense of murderous ideology, but I can make sense of books, photos and how they exist in the world.

Below, in each of the four categories, I offer some analysis followed by Aperture’s official blurb and videos. I end with some concluding thoughts about the four entrants considered in unison.

What To Make of the Winners?

Let’s do things the backward way round and start with the Special Jurors’ Mention category as opposed to the three main categories.

Special Jurors’ Mention

Will Steacy
Deadline. b.frank books (Philadelphia, 2015)
Designed by Will Steacy

MY THOUGHTS

Will Steacy’s Deadline is my book of the year (slide 42), so a tip-of-the-hat here is no surprise. Deadline is about the heritage of storied newspaper Philadelphia Inquirer and about the forecasted chaos of downsizing. It was printed on the same presses that churned out the Inquirer over decades.

Deadline is a look to the past with an eye on the future. Most of all, it’s a tribute to the working man. When labor movements are usually talked of in the past tense, Steacy is putting workers’ issues into art world discourse, reconnecting art with politics.

Union membership has fallen from 1 in 3 workers to 1 in 10, over the past 50 years. I’m no blind preservationist, but I do want to know that progress is made for the benefit of all and not at the expense of any. As I wrote for time:

“Fanatical in its view of both the newsroom and the printing presses, Deadline honors the labor of the copyboys, the reporters, the inkers and the editors equally. Decorated journalists reflect back on the Inquirer’s “Golden Age” and Steacy’s dad reflects on generations of their family working in newspapers. In five sections, the amount of research, fact-checking, phone-calls, line-editing and captioning in Deadline is astounding.

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Deadline is dense, daring and difficult to pigeonhole; I think that’s why it got the special mention but not one of the category gongs. It didn’t fit neatly, but it was impossible to ignore.

OFFICIAL APERTURE BLURB

Will Steacy’s Deadline is a newspaper about a newspaper: the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he spent five years photographing the newsroom, employees, and printing plant. Thanks to the Internet, most newspaper staffs are a fraction of what they once were. The Inquirer is no exception, and Deadline chronicles its history — with texts by current and former staff, and archival photographs alongside Steacy’s own — through to its very uncertain future; the final pages see the formerly prominent newspaper moved into a much smaller office.

For Steacy, who comes from a family of newspapermen, this story is personal — his father was an editor at the Inquirer for nearly thirty years, till he was laid off while Steacy was working on this project. The materials, design, and printing quality of his son’s contribution are all in line with family tradition (it was even printed at the Inquirer’s own press), but the focus has been turned inward. As Christoph Wiesner comments, “it serves both as a history of the journalism sector and a work of subtexts, revealing a process of deconstruction or mise en abyme.” Deadline is less a case study than it is a eulogy.

Winner of Photobook of the Year

Thomas Mailaender
Illustrated People
Archive of Modern Conflict and RVB Books (Paris, 2014)
Designed by Thomas Mailaender and Rémi Faucheux.

MY THOUGHTS

One thing’s for sure: there’s no other photobook like it. Whatever gaveThomas Mailaender the idea to burn images onto people’s skin with UV light? I can’t work out if Illustrated People is fringe genius or just a gimmick, but the answer to the question is less important than the inquiry. For the deeper you go on these photos the more disturbing shit gets.

Let’s start with the easy obvious stuff, though. The coupling of images from the Archive of Modern Conflict on dull paper in washed out B&Ws with glossy glaring blood reds is very striking. It’s a catchy reference to red-top newspapers, so activist posters, to Soviet graphics to political and military propaganda.

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It’s strange that we might be put off by Mailaender’s violence toward his volunteers’ bodies. After all, these are images are taken from an archive devoted to war and technological chaos fo the 20th century. By comparison to any bullet or nuke, Mailaender’s work is playful. Maybe that’s the point? Is Illustrated People a manic embrace of disorder and a Dr. Strangelove-esque riding of the bomb?

Yet, even in acknowledgement — and some celebration of — Mailaender’s flippant wit, I can’t stop thinking that these are like some scorched-earth futuristic nightmare. Like this is sci-fi gone awry; a vision of a time in which humans are branded with culture, not creators of it, and a dystopia in which bodies are a drain on resources on an overheated, water-scarce planet. Or given the side-boobs and pin-up girls, is Illustrated People just a photo-sadist’s wet dream? That I’m still guessing is (and talking) is a good sign. Can. Not. Unsee.

OFFICIAL APERTURE BLURB

When artist Thomas Mailaender was given access to the Archive of Modern Conflict’s photo archives, he decided to “print” some of the negatives he found onto a whole new medium: the human body. Using a UV lamp, Mailaender projected these negatives onto models’ pale skin, leaving sunburnt imprints of the images.

Full-color documentation of this performance alternates with archival images inIllustrated People, a playful softcover book encased in a translucent red plastic jacket. While the archival images have a faded appearance, printed in black-and-white on plain matte paper, the “sunburn” pages are bright and glossy. “What’s interesting to me is the relationship between the immaterial archive and the living bodies,” says Yannick Bouillis. “He made something that goes beyond just the selection of images — he’s putting pure culture onto something natural, the body.”

Winner of Photography Catalogue of the Year

Diane Dufour and Xavier Barral
Images of Conviction: The Construction of Visual Evidence
LE BAL and Éditions Xavier Barral (Paris, 2015)
Designed by Coline Aguettaz and Xavier Barral.

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The Images a Charge/Images of Conviction book cover features a photo by Rodolphe A. Reiss, rendered in the negative, showing a demonstration of the Bertillon metric photography system.

MY THOUGHTS

Images of Conviction was one of the curatorial highlights of 2015, but a great exhibition doesn’t always guarantee a great catalogue, so it’s wonderful that the excellence of Dufour and Barral’s presentation of material on walls is matched by their presentation of content on paper.

Coincidentally, like Mailaender’s book, the only time grayscale is punctuated in this catalogue is by the red tones and exacting dots. Many of the images here are drawn from government archives, official reports, military imaging or sites of forensic investigation (even if the photographers, Meiselas below for example, are not forensic photographers).

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Grace A-South, Koreme, North of Iraq, June 1992 © Susan Meiselas, Magnum Photos.

Images Of Conviction brings together ten case studies in which images were used to establish truth and narrative in the wake of death — be that of a single person, of a religious tale or of an entire people.

I think of Images Of Conviction as the sister exhibition to the Tate’s epicConflict Time Photography in 2014. But whereas the Tate focused on the changing types of photographs made in response to conflict over time, Dufour and Barral focus on the changing technologies use to make photographs. Whereas the Tate considered subjective response (prints, photobooks, memorial), Dufour and Barral are concerned with the application of objective fact. Whereas Tate was sympathetic to artistic response, Dufour and Barral’s framework has little room for it.

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Photography extract from Decoding video testimony, Miranshah, Pakistan, March 30, 2012 © Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research.

In an uncomfortable echo of Mailaender’s work we see the body as a battle ground. Mailaender subjects are willing participants but, by contrast, Dufour and Barral show us images in which the dead are drawn into space of the contested narrative. Here, dead bodies are used to to deliver or deny accusations of a fatal crime against them.

Richard Helmer’s face/skull Mengele superimposition 1985 © Photo Richard Helmer Courtesy Maja Helmer, 1985.

Folks in the art-world often forget that photography underpins judicial, political, labour and territorial infrastructures. Images Of Conviction reminds us that pretty pictures are just papering the cracks over fizzing, and sometimes terrifying, realities.

OFFICIAL APERTURE BLURB

In this meticulously designed catalogue, photography itself is put on the witness stand. Published to accompany an exhibition of the same name that originated at LE BAL, Paris, Images of Conviction is a fascinating historical survey of the ways photography has shaped official versions of truth — from the Shroud of Turin to crime-scene photography of the freshly dead, to video evidence of drone strikes.

The design is sedate but never boring, alternating between pale gray and clean white paper. The images are all reproduced in black and white, with a chilling negative image printed on the cover. “Everything is made so that the catalogue stays neutral, but not cold,” says Julien Frydman, who also praises the diverse, well-edited texts. The volume offers a variety of answers to the question posed by editor Diane Dufour in her introduction — “How does the image take shape in truth-seeking scientific and historical discourse?” — without losing its sense of mystery.

Winner of First Photobook

Daniel Mayrit
You Haven’t Seen Their Faces
RIOT BOOKS (Madrid, 2015)
Designed by Verónica Fieiras and Daniel Mayrit

MY THOUGHTS

The former Arsenal and Brazil midfielder Gilberto Silva expressed his dismay this week that next to no professional footballers were speaking outabout the FIFA corruption scandal that is tearing the heart out of the beautiful game. Maybe it’s that the story is old or maybe it’s that we don’t know how or where to pinpoint our anger at white collar crimes?

Despite millions of people losings their homes, pensions and security, still no-one has been prosecuted for their role in the housing crisis and consequent global meltdown. Daniel Mayrit’sYou Haven’t Seen Their Faces uses news and public domain images to mimic CCTV captures. The 100 people featured in this stack of butcher-paper fly-posters are those deemed most powerful in the City of London in terms of policy, politics, and those in control of banks, corporations and regulatory bodies.

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The title is a cheeky inversion of Margaret Bourke-White’s landmark You Have Seen Their Faces (1937) a book about poverty in the Southern states. In the 20th-century we thought we could, as a society, come together and solve social ills. Now, however, we struggle to know from where the confusion festers and we rely pathetically on mischievous artists to out the beneficiaries of 21st-century capitalism.

Images were once tools of humanitarian witness, now they’re cheapened, desperate and frustrated gestures toward the insulated power-classes.

OFFICIAL APERTURE BLURB

Daniel Mayrit plays with the semiotics of law enforcement in You Haven’t Seen Their Faces. Full-bleed close-ups of the declared “100 most powerful people in the city of London” are printed in the style of grainy CCTV footage, with condemning information against them scrawled on every image. The book is a response to police fliers handed out after the 2011 riots in London, when surveillance images of alleged rioters’ faces were publicly distributed in a presumption of guilt. Mayrit flips this visual language on those believed responsible for events that are arguably far more damaging: the recent economic crises that have wracked Europe.

Yannick Bouillis calls the design “streetwise”; held together by screws at the top, the images are printed on lightweight brown pages akin to butcher paper, and fastened to stiff cardboard. A map of the suspects’ headquarters is tucked into the back.

Conclusions

It was not obvious to me until I really approached the final drafts of this review how depressing the four photobooks are in conglomeration. In them we have the slow death of free press, corporate criminals at large, homicide, dispute, intimate violence, microcosms of global warming, total surveillance, harrowing medical procedures, genocide, labor camps and the havoc of the markets.

The Paris attacks exploded out of fear, hatred, deep-level antipathy and dehumanisation. ISIS’ acts of terror are a symptom of profound division: Western military meddling and foreign bombs in the Middle East + Whackball religious ideology = Crumbling social fabric. Unfortunately, I think that the attacks will also serve as cause; the cause of more military meddling and fundamentalism.

The international community, and the French people in particular, have already shown that they will not be divided by murderous acts. Nor should France sacrifice its ideals of liberty, equality and brotherhood in response to the extremist nutters. However, increased military incursions into Syria and strikes on ISIS will, I fear, only poor flames on the fire.

France launched attacks on ISIS positions the Monday after the attacks. President Obama has sent U.S. troops to carry out raids throughout ISIS-held territory. This week, the British and German governments voted to launch airstrikes in Syria.

Seeing Is Power

And so we have two types of “sight” in the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Abroad, is drone recognizance, military mapping and satellite imagery providing data upon which awesome bombardments are planned. At home, throughout European cities and transit hubs, citizens are subject to pernicious and exacting CCTV. In both cases, the application of these technologies is meant to prevent further killing (perversely, in the case of guided-bombs, by killing targets not civilians) but also to establish moral cause and “truth” in the aftermath of death. CCTV will be used as evidence. News channels will be fed footage of bombs striking combatants through air vents. Facial recognition software will identify people IRL and in the digital realm at exponentially faster rates.

This writer cannot see how more bombs in a region already pummeled into unknown levels of chaos is likely to help, but geopolitical strategy is above my pay grade. Righteous anger is an understandable response, but should it make for armed retaliation? Let’s just say this writer is comfortable deferring to Nicolas Hénin, a man who was held hostage by ISIS, who cautions against massive military airstrikes:

While we are trying to destroy Isis, what of the 500,000 civilians still living and trapped in Raqqa? What of their safety? What of the very real prospect that by failing to think this through, we turn many of them into extremists? The priority must be to protect these people, not to take more bombs to Syria. We need no-fly zones — zones closed to Russians, the regime, the coalition. The Syrian people need security or they themselves will turn to groups such as Isis.

The fallout from the tragic events of November 13th will inevitably involve more bloodshed.

Anxiety reigns currently. That is understandable. Some reaction to the anxiety is less understandable. Sometimes, it is easy to overlook or downplay the constant state of vigilance in which people, and especially government agencies, operate. The Paris attacks revealed the threat is real.

As much as the Paris Photo-Aperture Photobook Awards reflect cultural production, and as much as cultural production reflects common concerns and public psyche, we can identify in these four winners the trauma and violence that bubbles constantly under the surface in our global community

These four books are not entirely unrelated to the violence that broke the peace in Paris three weeks ago. They are documents of our time and, sadly, they deal with miseries that harken back long before these tense times.

The Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation award winning photobooks on view

Aperture Gallery, New York (December 12, 2015–February 8, 2016); Huis Marseille, Amsterdam (December 2015–January 2016); Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Toronto (May 1–31, 2016); Self Publish Riga, Riga Photomonth, Latvia (May 12–June 3, 2016); 15th International Festival of Photography in Łódź, Fotofestiwal 2016, Poland (June 9–19, 2016); Landskrona Foto Festival, Landskrona, Sweden (August 19–27, 2016).

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A few weeks ago I wrote, for Wired, a piece about Edmund Clark‘s latest body of work Control Order House. The piece carried the irreverent title This Incredibly Boring House Is a U.K. Terror Suspect’s Lockdown but the details of the project it gets into – two years of negotiating access, Clark’s process which riffs on surveillance and forensic photography, Clark’s the decision to present every photograph he took in the order he took them, etc. are important, mildly complex and worth getting one’s head around.

The house Clark documented belonged to a pre-trail UK terror suspect, under house arrested, referred to in legal documents as CE.

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I wrote:

Control Order House is the only existing photographic study of a residence occupied by a person under a UK control order. It is not an exposé, however. Given the legal sensitivities, every image was vetted by UK government officials. Clark was not allowed to reveal the identity of the terror suspect — referred to in legal documents as “CE” — nor his location.

“To reveal CE’s identity would be an offence and in breach of the court-imposed anonymity order,” says Clark. “All the photographs I took or the documents I wanted to use had to be screened by the Home Office.”

For Clark, the project is best appreciated in its book form. Control Order House was published by HERE Press and released May 2nd.

Clark refers to the book as an “object of control” because at a point, he accepted that, with so many attached limitations, his photography was almost an extension of the state power he was documenting. All of his equipment had to be itemized and registered with the UK Home Office before his three visits.

Wired created a Scribd document (that has no URL, but is embedded in the article) with six pages of Clark’s correspondence with both the terror suspect and the UK Home Office employees.

“Even CE’s lawyers made it clear to me that the I had to careful about what I spoke to him about because the house was (very probably) bugged and that my telephone communication with him would be monitored,” explains Clark. “All my material, even my words here [in this interview] could become part of CE’s case.”

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Control Order House is a finely balanced project. It is hampered by so many obstacles to unfettered depiction that our traditional notions of what photography is supposed to do are frustrated. It is not exposé; it is completely descriptive of its own limitations. It’s these limitations from which we must depart in thinking about photography in highly policed spaces. Control Order House should kick-start considerations of lesser seen photographs from the Global War On Terror (GWOT), namely, images of drone strike aftermath, Aesthetics of Terror (as, in this case, distilled by artists), redacted images in magazines distributed at Guantanamo (scroll down), Kill Team trophy photos, American personnel’s own vernacular war photography, and Jihad suicide posters.

Control Order House is about the act of photography. It’s self-referential as kids’ MFA work that deconstructs photographic process, but — unlike those studio experiments — it has roots in a clearly identifiable political territory. It shows us more than we knew but not as much as we would like to know. In so doing it reminds us of all the operations, violence and war crimes carried out on our tax dollar that we never see, never know.

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I know the drill, Got cells to burn,
I’m dressed to kill, A mortal coil,
And time is still, On secret soil.

Yeah pay the bills, Cells to burn, Mouths to fill
On Boeing jets, In the sunset make glowing threats.

Yes shall we take a spin again in business,
This time is fixed lets sweeten our facilities,
It took all the man in me.

Lyrics from Massive Attack’s Atlas Air

The animated video for Massive Attack’s Atlas Air, directed by Edouard Salier is a tour de force.

Rampaging and amorphous, what can only be described as a Donnie Darkoesque were-bunny, rips it way through and across blackened territories of prismatic violence. Against and allied, it runs with commercial jets into explosions. Apparently, this is a second appearance for the satanic leporid; it previously romped around Massive Attack’s last video Splitting the Atom.

The randomness of it all, sometimes seen through a gun-sight, recalls the Wikileaks Apache Attack video. But other things are going on too – burning oil fields (the first Gulf War); shattering buildings (9/11); Prestwick airport gets a mention (not the most well known airport but it was the site of a botched car-bomb attack in 2007).

Ultimately, this is a video about extrajudicial rendition flights, the absence of law and the suspension of human rights. The screen grab above – which flashes by so quickly you’ll be forgiven for missing it – deals quite clearly with the involuntary movement of humans, only in this case that of slavery.

Just as the 9/11 plotters usurped commercial airliners for their ideology, the US military adopted commercial jets for its murky logistics. Salier doesn’t miss the opportunity to point out the hypocrisy in the visuals. 737’s get a mention in Atlas Air‘s lyrics.

Salier shows us the negation of order and, perversely, the power-distorted dominance and slick allure of disorder.

By strangling any reason out the compressed annihilation, the Atlas Air video is, for me, one of the finest visualisations of REAL terror. Massive Attack and Salier are not describing anything that relates to the rhetorical usage of the word ‘terror’ pushed on us by war-mongering politicians; they are dealing with pure destructive force as and when it is sent out against an equal force.

This is not a narrative of us against them or of us against them and their allies, or even us and our allies against them and their allies, it is about how fucked it all is … and about the terrifying, beyond-human-scale to which violence escalates. By relying on images of man made cities and theatres of war, Salier reminds us that these crushing vortexes are of our own creation and our own instigation.

I’ve admired Massive Attack’s intelligent use of video before.

*GWOT = Global War on Terror

While not related to the work of a single photographer or project, the lines of argument proffered by Subtopia are so resonant that Prison Photograph Blog feels the diversion justified. Through summary of the four chosen articles, we can gaze upon the complexity and omnipotence of incarceration in our frantic, contested global society. Subtopia’s images will knock you on your arse!

The analysis of Bryan Finoki at Subtopia consistently join the dots between geopolitics & biopolitics; movement & paralysis; spatial theory and spatial reality. Unsurprisingly, for a writer in the 21st century, his interest in the production of structures & networks, often leads him to theories of militarised space.

I am in awe of Subtopia’s output. From lengthy and comprehensive issue-based summaries; to purposed surveys; from fine image-editing; to diverse links and sources in each post. Finoki serves up rigorous analysis, or entertainment, but usually both.

© 2009 Subtopia/Brian Finoki

© 2009 Subtopia/Brian Finoki

Over the past couple of years Finoki has submitted a few pieces on “The Prison”. Subtopia’s preoccupation with power and spatial production means carceral sites/archipelagos are referenced frequently. Finoki has been keen to unravel the mysteries of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), its structures and its legacies – this always means dealing with detention, rendition, and construction (that can be visible, but more often invisible.)

Article OneFantasy Prison is a meditation on potential prison architectures spurred by the 2007 Creative Prison project a collaboration between architect Will Alsop prisoners at HMP Gartree to redesign corrective and rehabilitative space. Two things struck me about the suggestions made by prisoners. 1) They were most afraid of attack from other inmates, and therefore an option to lock themselves IN was a shared high priority, and 2) They wanted to include a designated photo-room within the visitors center to allow for photography and variant backgrounds. I have posted before about manifestly curious prison-polaroid aesthetic. This article also threw up the crucial social responsibilities of architects & designers in a time of prison expansion, most notably the Prison Design Boycott launched in 2004 by the group Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR).

A rendering of Will Alsop’s new corrections landscape, developed in collaboration with prisoners, resembles a cross between Communist-era housing blocs and a series of South Beach condos. Courtesy Alsop Architects

A rendering of Will Alsop’s new corrections landscape, developed in collaboration with prisoners, resembles a cross between Communist-era housing blocs and a series of South Beach condos. Courtesy Alsop Architects

I have been a fan of Alsop’s work since his 2005 hypothetical SuperCity project which would subsume my hometown in the North.

Article TwoFloating Prisons is a historical survey of sea-faring, carceral solutions by warring and colonising nations. Finoki maps the use of prison ships from 18th & 19th century economic necessity to transport human cargo to contemporary manoeuvrings in avoidance of international law. He makes reference to the convenience use of islands as sites of detention, the use of ships as temporary housing in leiu of land locked sites, and the dubious experiments in swapping refugees held in off-shore camps. The summary was to say that new legal definitions and controls are creeping in giving one the sense, “refugees and migrants are just an excess of biomass to be herded around on prison islands or in prison vessels, traded like geo-economic commodities, removed and disposed of like capitalist human waste, reinforcing the state of exception that goes on re-organizing the architectural spheres of global migration.” Phenomenal.

The Vernon C. Bain is a prison barge operated by the City of New York, and houses some 800 prisoners in a medium and maximum security facility. She was built in 1992 at a cost of $ 161 Million, which as usual, means it would have been cheaper to send the inmates to Harvard instead.

The Vernon C. Bain is a prison barge operated by the City of New York, housing 800 prisoners in a medium and maximum security facility. Built in 1992 at a cost of $ 161 Million means it would have been cheaper to send the inmates to Harvard instead. (Source)

Article Three“Block D” enters the Pantheon of GWOT Space is a meditation on the totality of restricted space across the globe – in multiple nations – in order to sustain military operations. The point of the survey (which includes previously known sites such as Guantanamo, Baghdad’s ‘Green Zone’, Bagram Theater Internment Facility, US homeland immigrant detention facilities, and Taxi networks for rendition) is to add another site to the list: “Block D” in Pul-e-Charki Prison just east of Kabul, Afghanistan.

With persistent references to journalists’ work for the BBC, New York Times and Washington Post, Finoki summarises, ” ‘Block D’ or ‘Block 4’ as it is also apparently known: a newly built detention facility [is] quickly becoming understood as the Asian corollary of Guantánamo Bay. No matter, it is another utterly disturbing black hole in the universe of legally suspect and secret space.” Finoki doesn’t focus on the conditions of detention but rather America’s self-created legal imbroglio.

Nearly a year after writing, this analysis seems prophetic now, as the American public is slowly coming to realise that Obama’s closure of Gitmo doesn’t necessarily magic away the human rights issues … only shifts them somewhere slightly more obscured. As with Gitmo, one expects Block D to focus the new rounds of jousting between the same ideological stakeholders.

Pul-e-Charkhi prison, Kabul, Afghanistan. Construction began in the 1970s by order of then-president Mohammed Daoud Khan and was completed during the Soviet invasion (1979-89). The prison was notorious for torture and abuses under the control of Afghanistan's communist government following the invasion by the Soviet Union.

Pul-e-Charkhi prison, Kabul, Afghanistan. Construction began in the 1970s by order of then-president Mohammed Daoud Khan and was completed during the Soviet invasion (1979-89). The prison was notorious for torture and abuses under the control of Afghanistan's communist government following the invasion by the Soviet Union. (Source)

Article FourThe Spatial Instrumentality of Torture is a stomach-pounding dose of reality in the form of an interview with Tom Hilde, Research Professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. I will not offer a synopsis, just encourage you to read through it. The interview is illustrated in part by Prison Photography‘s favourite Richard Ross.

Hilde ends with the sobering words, “The secrecy of much of the US torture program, its physical spaces, and its extent has certainly kept public debate rather subdued. But I think the dualistic moral framework has been even more corrosive of a public understanding of torture in general and the consequences of American torture in particular. When a majority of Americans say that torture is acceptable for some purposes, I think they have the fantasy of the ticking timebomb, and likely racism in many cases, in the backs of their minds.”

Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo, Cuba. The facility has not been used since early 2002, and recent heavy rains at Guantánamo Bay have brought about overgrowth. Credit: Kathleen T. Rhem

Camp X-Ray, Guantánamo, Cuba. The facility has not been used since early 2002, and recent heavy rains at Guantánamo Bay have brought about overgrowth. Credit: Kathleen T. Rhem

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