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GUANTÁNAMO show opening March 31 at FotoFest
February 26, 2007

GUANTÁNAMO

Pictures From Home. Questions of Justice


FOTOFEST
1113 Vine Street Houston 77002
March 31 - May 19, 2007


See the Press Release

WHAT: GUANTÁNAMO. Pictures From Home. Questions of Justice. is a rare glimpse inside the life of the prison, the men who are detainees, and the legal issues that surround their imprisonment. With last week’s District Court decision in Washington D.C., it could be one of the last independent views we have inside Guantánamo. The words of lawyers representing detainees pro bono, with de-classified testimonies from military tribunals take us from the Middle East and Afghanistan into the cells of Guantánamo. The stories raise troubling questions how the U.S. is dealing with the war on terror.

The photographs, video, audio installation and texts will be seen for the first time in Houston, Texas. They are the result two and a half years of work by New York photographer Margot Herster, whose husband is one of the Guantánamo lawyers. The photographs, taken by the lawyers visiting families of the detainees, were not originally intended for the general public; they were a means of communicating with the detainees, a way to build trust. Attorneys began visiting detainees and their families in the Middle East and Afghanistan in 2004 after the Supreme Court decided detainees could file cases to challenge their imprisonment. In 2006, the Supreme Court re-affirmed the right of detainees to legal representation, but the Military Commissions Act passed by Congress in late 2006 gave the government the right to detain indefinitely and without trial, persons defined as “unlawful enemy combatants.” In February 2007, the U.S. Appeals court stated that non-U.S. citizens, so charged and held outside the United States, did not have the right to challenge their detention in U.S. civil courts and dismissed all pending cases.

The February court decision could once again shut the door to Guantánamo, where many of the remaining 395 men have already spent four to five years in confinement, without being formally charged.

The previously unseen photographs and video excerpts gathered for this exhibition portray 37 detainees from Yemen, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. With the photographs, there is an audio installation, Inside Guantánamo, with sounds and stories detailing life inside the prison, and a video, The Lawyers, by Herster and Carolyn Mara Borlenghi, candidly presenting the experiences of six Guantánamo attorneys.

WHEN: Guantánamo. Pictures From Home. Questions of Justice. is being presented by FotoFest from March 31 to May 19, 2007. The opening is Saturday, March 31 with the project director, curator, and participating lawyers.


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