The Brutal Normalcy of the Warfare on Terror


The title of Edmund Clark’s latest exhibition at New York’s Worldwide Middle for Images, “The Day the Music Died,” refers to a line in one of many English photographer’s favourite songs, Don McLean’s “American Pie.” The that means of that track modified endlessly for Clark when he discovered that it was used—together with music by Meatloaf, Aerosmith, 2Pac, and plenty of others—to psychologically torture prisoners at America’s Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Clark believes that the practically two-decade-long “War on Terror” launched by President George W. Bush after 9/11 has subtly permeated our tradition and on a regular basis lives in comparable methods. Working with investigative journalist Crofton Black, Clark has spent the previous decade touring to black websites, detention amenities, and naval bases all over the world, looking for to seize the commonplace actuality of horrific practices like torture, extraordinary rendition, and indefinite detention.

His objective is to de-sensationalize these areas—and, in doing so, make us notice the Warfare on Terror is throughout us. “It’s not something over there and exotic,” Clark says. “It’s small subcontractors in upstate New York or North Carolina. It’s mundane bureaucratic stuff like flight schedules, invoices, emails. The rendition flights are going through ordinary airports, the pilots are staying in ordinary hotels.”

There are not any individuals in Clark’s images, simply the proof of human presence: cigarette butts; crumpled paper; an arrow on the concrete ground of a detention facility pointing to Mecca. When Clark traveled to the houses of launched Guantanamo detainees, he photographed scenes of on a regular basis life—messy kitchens, unmade beds, youngsters’s toys. Counterintuitively, he believes this strategy is extra highly effective than exhibiting their faces.

“Because the image of Osama bin Laden remains so toxic, the human form fails to humanize them,” he explains. “It actually does the opposite, because it risks becoming a mirror for people’s preconceptions. It doesn’t matter if you say this person is innocent. If you show someone’s face from Guantanamo Bay, people say, ‘This is a terrorist.’ So by not showing anyone, but by showing spaces and objects, things that are de-exoticized, it’s a way of deconstructing that image.”

Clark has additionally photographed the homes of airplane pilots concerned within the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, lots of whose names have been made public as a part of ongoing lawsuits in Europe. Due to privateness legal guidelines, Clark was compelled to blur out the precise homes, which has the impact of constructing them appear much more menacing—the same impact to the closely redacted paperwork Clark included within the exhibition. “A lot of this work is about absence,” he says. “It’s about redaction, it’s about strike-outs. We make that process of redaction part of the narrative.”



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