David Grosvenor: "Phnom Penh to Guantanamo" and Other Work
Guantanamo Bay BridgeInvitationMohammad ZahirCalving SeasonGuantanamo SunriseMahmoud YacoubiCambodia Center LinePhnom Penh to Guantanamo, Pt IPhnom Penh to Guantanamo, Pt IIal-Libi Box ScoreThe Home PlaceKhalid Salih al DhubyForough FarrokhzadSea of PalmsAamer ShakerExit PapersEast to Mecca
Phnom Penh to Guantanamo
Los Medanos College Gallery, Pittsburgh CA April-May 2015
Silent Barn, Brooklyn NY Summer 2015

Several pieces in this series are titled with the name of a current Guantanamo detainee. Images include prisoner mugshots from Guantanamo Bay, the Soviet NKVD, Khmers Rouges, and Nationalist Spain. The prisoners have one thing in common: they were all incarcerated without trial.

There's a long history of denying due process, for persecuting and prosecuting "the other", and the regimes that have practiced it transcend race, religion, geography, and ideology. At issue here isn't guilt or innocence, but the Kafka-like environment that develops when the state itself replaces the rule of law with a punitive ideology.
The regimes named above were preoccupied with documenting their detainment practices. It's as if they knew they knew their existence would soon end, and longed to preserve their despotism. Ironically, their record-keeping often served as evidence at their own trials, and hopefully as a reminder that detainment without trial ends badly for all involved.
Among the text in the pieces are sections of the US Constitution in Arabic and Urdu, transit papers from the Milosevic regime in Bosnia, Soviet Gulag deportation orders, Khmers Rouges reeducation documents, Pakistani marriage proposals and Tunisian ferry schedules. They show that despotism can exist among us, regularly scheduled but unnoticed and without protest, while we set about our daily routines.