June 14 – August 25, 2018
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.
Read an essay on Welcome to Camp America by Pete Brock here.
Inside Guantánamo Bay: A Photographer Documents America’s Most Heavily Guarded Prison. Hyperallergic, August 23, 2018.
Debi Cornwall’s Award-Winning ‘Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantánamo Bay’ Exhibition to Open in Philadelphia. ARTFIX Daily, June 13, 2018.
Outside the Wire: Camp America Comes Home. The Intercept, June 10, 2018.
Debi Cornwall is a conceptual documentary artist who returned to visual expression in 2014 after a 12-year career as a civil rights lawyer. Her work examines American power and identity in the post-9/11 era through photographs, archives, text, and sound.
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.