In 2002, the U.S. opened 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 locates the familiar in this state of exception, marrying empathy and dark humor with systemic critique.
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). In the 16 years since its prisons opened, Gitmo has housed 780 “detainees.” 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.