Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=215517
Story Retrieval Date: 4/24/2014 2:04:08 PM CST

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Edmund Clark

"First you heard the guards coming onto the block rattling the chains. No one knew whose cell they were going to. Then your would hear your number: 'Number five, number five, interrogation.'

You were chained before you left the cell, with shackles on your hands running down your stomach to your legs and ankles. The shackles were not padded like these in the picture, they were like metal handcuffs which cut your ankles as the guards on either side made you walk at whatever speed they wanted."

Tarek Dergoul, ex-detainee


Terror and abuse: Guantanamo in pictures unravels in Chicago

by Idyli Tsakiri Karatzaferi
Feb 8, 2013


guantanamo1

Edmund Clark

"Nails sticking out of the wall of a Guantanamo returnee’s home, put there by the returnee. Peanuts compared to Guantanamo protection, but pretty vicious. After however many years away he feels he needs the protection of a barrier from the world, or perhaps it is just that he doesn’t want them to come and get him again."

Michael Koppelman, professor of neuropsychiatry, advisor on cases of torture and abuse

Welcome to Guantanamo Inn: single bed, ocean views available, extended stays welcomed, special suites for 18 and under, meals included, group rates available (paid by the American tax dollars). Don’t forget to ask management about the daily and weekly interview and interrogation specials. “Frequent Fliers” points also available. Plenty of vacancy-current occupancy: approximately 174

YVONNE R. BRADLEY, former military defense counsel of released detainee.

That’s the caption in one of the photographs in the Roosevelt University's Gage Gallery exhibition "Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out,” which opened Feb. 7 and will run through May 4.

In a Western society that takes pride in its development and the civilized way of living, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a part that many people wish to forget about. The story is told through photographs of a place most people will be lucky enough to never see live.

The photographer, Edmund Clark, represents Guantanamo through three ideas of home: pictures of the current homes of ex-detainees, pictures of the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and pictures of the prison camp and cells. All of them blend together and at the same time contradict each other somewhere between light and darkness.

“Guantanamo represented America being able to fight dirty,” said Clark, a British cameraman. This project is intended to make people think and respond to the images, he said. Guantanamo brought a shift in expectations of what is normal and acceptable, he added.

There are no people in the photographs. There are, however, their beds, the chains that kept them restrained, the letters they received. The emotions created by a letter from a daughter to her father, a prisoner in Guantanamo, are so much stronger than a picture of him.

“Taking the human form out of the pictures reduces the distance between the viewer and this experience,” Clark said. “It brings it closer to home.”

This is the first time this exhibition is in the United States. “This is the opening show of what we hope to go all around the country,” said Michael Ensdorf, professor of photography at Roosevelt University and director of the gallery at 18 S. Michigan Ave.

“What I appreciate is the complexity and thoughtfulness of this work,” he said. “One specific photo should not be elevated to another level. It is the whole body of work.”

Guantanamo is a very controversial issue and such pictures are difficult to be presented in the U.S. because of the subject matter. However, it is perfect for a university to host the exhibition because universities are involved in social justice and this art generates discussion on many different issues, Ensdorf said.

“The Bush administration made many Americans wonder what is moral,” Ensdorf said. “America is a complicated country that has gone through difficult times.”

Some say that a picture is worth 1,000 words. In this case this exhibition can talk for hours, and tells a very interesting story while revealing one of America’s darkest sides.

The exhibition is open to the public and free to anyone interested to experience Guantanamo.