Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play - PhMuseum

Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play

Debi Cornwall

2014 - 2015

122 men are still imprisoned at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, known as "Gitmo." Most have been held for 13 years without charge, trial or conviction, but were cleared for release years ago. Rather than replicating images already emblazoned on our collective consciousness - orange jumpsuits, barbed wire - I look at the grim absurdity of this place through images of residential and leisure spaces for all those displaced here: both prisoners and the military personnel who guard them. The design of military spaces - "normal," "American," "fun" - is in stark contrast to the spaces available to those held inside the prison camps, a disconnect that speaks to the uneasy exercise of power in America's offshore prison paradise. On my most recent (third) trip, I shot and developed medium format film in a Navy Lodge bathroom under the watch of military escorts as a condition of making analog images in the prison camps. I am the only person ever to have done this under the highly restrictive regulations now operative for photographers, which among other things require "Operational Security Review" of every image every day, and consent to the deletion of any image violating military regulations.

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  • Special permission was granted for me to make this image with medium format film on the condition that I develop it on site under the watch of military escorts. Military regulations require that all images be subjected to "Operational Security Review" before leaving the island. Any images violating the ten pages of rules are deleted.

  • Special permission was granted to shoot medium format film in the camps in 2015 on the condition that all film be hand processed on site under the watch of military escorts. Military regulations require that all images be subjected to "Operational Security Review" before leaving the island. Any images violating the ten pages of rules are deleted.


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