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Guantanamo. : Operational Security Review.

Louie Palu
Artists' Books

Self-Published, 2014
24 pp., 12 color illustrations, 11½x15”

We rely on photographs to shape our understanding of some of modern history’s most complex events. Yet how do practices of censorship, editing, and curation shape what we see, how we understand, and what we remember?

“GUANTANAMO Operational Security Review” is a concept newspaper; it has no headlines, competing articles or advertising. It is an editing project, which uses photographs taken by Louie Palu at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay where detainees captured after the attacks of September 11, 2001 are being held. These photographs were taken while on several media tours organized by the U.S. Department of Defense between 2007-2010. The tours and access to take photographs is strictly managed and controlled by U.S. military officials. Photographs can only be taken with a digital camera.

At the end of each day of photography at the detention center, an official from the U.S. Department of Defense conducts an “Operational Security Review.” This is a process in which digital photographs deemed to have classified content or imagery that does not follow the guidelines for media coverage of the detention center are deleted from the photographer’s memory cards. The only traces that remain of the deleted images are file numbers listed on an official Department of Defense form given to the photographer. These forms have also been included in this publication. This newspaper can be dismantled and re-edited to your view of what you think the story should look like. It is also an exhibition that can be displayed anywhere you choose.

This concept is the result of research conducted during a fellowship awarded by the non-partisan policy think tank the New America Foundation from 2011-2013. “GUANTANAMO Operational Security Review” is the second newspaper in a series exploring image control in the media. The first, “Mira Mexico”, published by New America, examines the Mexican drug war and the optics of drug-related violence. The goal of both projects is to position the user/viewer as editor, curator or censor. The central question of this project is, “who controls what you see?”

  1. Guantanamo.

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