Edmund Clark: War of Terror, an exhibition of photography, film and documents exploring hidden experiences of state control in the ‘Global War on Terror’, opens this summer at IWM London. This will be Edmund Clark’s first major solo show in the UK and will include content that has never been displayed before in Britain.
The exhibition will focus on the measures taken by states to protect their citizens from the threat of international terrorism and their far-reaching effects. It will look at the issues of security, secrecy, legality and ethics presented by such methods of control. Within the international context of Clark’s work, the exhibition will centre on the experiences of UK citizens and residents suspected but never convicted of terrorist-related activities, and the involvement of the British government in the ‘Global War on Terror’.
The show will bring together highlights from five series of Clark’s work, including the first UK display of his most recent work ‘Negative Publicity: Artefacts of Extraordinary Rendition’, created in collaboration with counter-terrorism investigator Crofton Black. Other works will be the film ‘Section 4 Part 20: One Day on a Saturday’, photographs and images from the series ‘Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out’ and ‘Letters to Omar’, and the first major display of ‘Control Order House’, featuring previously unseen video footage. More information about each of these bodies of work can be found below.
Clark will invoke immersive and sensory engagement with the experiences of observation, detention and disorientation explored through his work. The exhibition combines photographs, videos and documents, displayed in a variety of forms and scales, including framed prints, graphic illustrations, installations and audio-visual projections. The works will be exhibited in the following thematic groups:
The first section of the exhibition features work from ‘Negative Publicity: Artefacts of Extraordinary Rendition’. Photographs, documents and graphic visualisations explore the processes behind ‘extraordinary rendition’, in which people suspected of terrorist-related activity were secretly detained and transferred without legal process to US custody for further detention and interrogation.
The exhibition goes on to explore the systems of control and interrogation experienced by detainees at the US military detention facility Guantanamo Bay. Photographs from Clark’s award-winning series ‘Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out’ offer an uneasy contrast between living spaces at Guantanamo and the homes of former British detainees who were released without charge.
A selection of work from ‘Letters to Omar’ features reproductions of censored correspondence sent to Omar Deghayes, a British detainee at Guantanamo, and later made available to Clark. Cards and letters sent to him by people from around the world, most of them strangers, were scanned and redacted by military censors. When and in what form Omar received the correspondence was part of the control exercised over him. These fragmentary reproductions created by the bureaucratic processes of Guantanamo added to his sense of paranoia.
Clark’s powerful audio-visual work ‘Section 4 Part 20: One Day on a Saturday’, produced with multi-media editor Anna Stevens, combines details of images from ‘Letters to Omar’ with voices overlaid in stereo recounting the minutiae of official daily detainee control and the testimony of a very particular interrogation to explore notions of disorientation and complicity.
The final section will feature Clark’s series ‘Control Order House’. In December 2011 and January 2012, Clark was given exclusive access to a suburban house in England in which a British man suspected of involvement in terrorist-related activity was living under the terms of a Home Office enforced control order. This was a form of detention without trial based on secret evidence. His installation in the exhibition presents nearly 500 photographs of the house in the order in which he took them. Two video sequences, on display for the first time, convey the tension, claustrophobia and monotony of a controlled person’s life. Documents, architectural plans and photographs reveal further details of life under a control order.
This exhibition marks a continued collaboration between Edmund Clark and IWM, which previously acquired several of his pieces including 14 prints from his award-winning series ‘Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out’ and his artist book ‘Control Order House’. The exhibition is curated by Kathleen Palmer, Head of Art, IWM and Hilary Roberts, Research Curator of Photography, IWM following their co-curation of the ‘Donovan Wylie: Vision as Power’ exhibition in 2013.
Edmund Clark says: ‘A vital challenge for today’s visual artists and photographers is how to explore new and unseen processes of contemporary conflict. My work engages with state censorship and control to find new visual strategies to try and achieve this and to reconfigure subjects we normally see as distant or threatening stereotypes on our screens. I am delighted that the experiences of the people who worked with me will have a place in Imperial War Museums and can contribute to the discourse around the ‘Global War on Terror.’ Hilary Roberts, Research Curator of Photography, IWM says: ‘Edmund Clark combines the roles of photographer, artist and humanitarian. His work interrogates the complexities of modern asymmetric warfare and its implications for human rights.’ Kathleen Palmer, Head of Art, IWM says: ‘Edmund Clark’s innovative work finds new ways to make visible aspects of the ‘War on Terror’ which have remained out of sight. This is the latest of IWM’s exhibitions to explore in depth the work of an outstanding contemporary artist with a sustained interest in conflict.’
About Edmund Clark
Edmund Clark is an award-winning artist whose work links history, politics and representation. His work has been published and exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, and acquired for national and international collections including, in Britain, The National Portrait Gallery, The Imperial War Museum and The National Media Museum. Awards include the Royal Photographic Society Hood Medal for outstanding photography for public service, The British Journal of Photography International Photography Award and being shortlisted for the prestigious Prix Pictet for the theme of Power. He teaches at the University of the Arts London. Edmund Clark: War of Terror will be on show at IWM London from 28 July 2016 – 28 August 2017. More information about the exhibition can be found on the IWM website here: http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-london/edmund-clark-war-of-terror