If the light goes out.
Photographs by Edmund Clark. Texts by Julian Stallabrass and Omar Deghayes.
Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2011. 108 pp., 64 color illustrations, 12¼x9¾".
‘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.’..
Binyam Mohamed, Prisoner #1458
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. Labelled ‘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 left in the minds
and memories of these men.
Read Colin Pantall's review of Guantanamo in photo-eye Magazine.