Capturing a sense of home in a place where few feel welcome, photographer Edmund Clark’s project, on display at New York’s Flowers Gallery, illustrates the division between the familiar and the foreign, defenders and terrorists, torturers and the abused. Through his images, many of them subtle and otherwise innocuous, Clark forces the viewer to engage with the human consequences of the infamous detention facility.
“This is a study of home,” Clark writes in the foreword of the project, but a very particular type of home, at a very particular time. Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out documents the famed 45 square mile parcel of land, paying close attention to themes of confinement, control trauma and memory, he said.
Below, Clark shares three photographs from his series, highlighting — in his own words — the important elements of life at the camp, on the base and at home.
Camp 1, exercise cage • “I was keen to get into Camp 1 because it was where several of the detainees I worked with were held. I heard of incidents of abuse that took place in the spaces of this camp during interrogations and daily life. Access was allowed for half an hour as the sun was setting. While taking this picture I heard the military ceremony for the lowering of the flag followed within seconds by the start of the call to prayer from Camp 4, the only communal detainee camp nearby.”
Naval Base, fast food restaurant • “I wanted to photograph where the community on the Naval Base lives because it is a small American town that has grown up over a hundred years and, since the 1960s, is a place of confinement in its own right separated from Cuba by a huge razor wire fence. I found that themes of confinement and insularity resonate in these spaces.”
Home, child’s bedroom in Kuwait • “This work began in the homes of ex-detainees in the UK, looking at the contrast between the ordinariness and normality of their living spaces and the dehumanized or demonized representations that are often associated with Guantanamo’s former prisoners. I continued this approach in the homes of ex-detainees in Middle Eastern countries, which still have a strong relationship with the West. There are motifs of confinement in these spaces too, and of complex political, economic and cultural relationships between East and West; between Islam and Christianity.”
Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out is on display until January 12, 2013 at Flowers Gallery in New York City.