Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 05:06 am est

Chelsea exhibit shows photography of Guantanamo

Posted on December 11, 2012 | by Jonathan Keshishoglou

Live Blog
“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 wrote, prisoner number 1458 of the Guantanamo Bay detention c

buy cheap viagra canada


Mohamed’s chilling words are displayed at the Flowers Gallery in Chelsea, where his plight and those of many other former Guantanamo Bay detainees are the focus of the latest exhibition. Created by photographer Edmund Clark, “Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out” is a collection of photographs depicting the notorious prison camps of the naval base in Cuba as well as the homes and lives of the people who were imprisoned in what Clark described as a “microcosm of America,” where Cuban law is sovereign, and prisoners habeas corpus does not apply.

“Are [the detainees] guilty of anything? I don’t know,” Clark said. “But the British innocents who were released from the camp created a contrast between the houses I knew and the dehumanizing Guantanamo Bay.”

Clark also photographed life in prison for his last photo collection, the award-winning “Still Life Killing Time” in 2007, but “Guantanamo” is the first time he was able to travel to and photograph a place so infamous for its interrogation techniques.

Many of the images demonstrate the difficult lives of those in the prison camp, even if people are not actually visible. Photographs of isolation cells, razor-wire fences and chairs with heavy straps to restrain prisoners fill the gallery, while more subtle images of dinner tables and bedrooms are also present, signifying the humanity of the prison camp detainees, most of whom are from Afghanistan and Yemen. Also on display are censored and redacted letters from a prisoner named Omar Deghayes, who eventually became so paranoid that he worried guards were giving him fake letters.

“Clark’s quiet and restrained style melds documentary and fine art imagery,” according to a New York Art Beats press release. “His photographs are absent of people, speaking to the identities that have been stripped away … At Guantanamo he had to switch from his 5 by 4 inch film camera to medium-format digital equipment, so that his photographs could be censored by security personnel at the end of each day.”

A video at the exhibition, narrated by a detainee as he describes the unsettling and spontaneous punishments he faced, complements Clark’s photographs. The narrator in the video speaks over continuous background music. According to Clark, music was often used for sleep deprivation at Guantanamo.

“The guys on the ground picked their favorite tracks, like the Sesame Street theme, this song from a cat food advertisement, mostly thrash metal,” Clark said. The same music would play loudly for hours on end, and this endless repetition and sense of disorientation is felt in the video.

Clark’s stark, sometimes frightening photographs will be on display through Jan. 12, 2013 at the Flowers Gallery, 529 W. 20th St.

Jonathan Keshishoglou is a staff writer. Email him at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.