Briton brings other side of 'war on terror'

Updated: 2016-08-02 10:39


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Briton brings other side of 'war on terror'

The War of Terror exhibition by British photographer Edmund Clark runs in London through Aug 28.[Photo/Agencies]

A haunting picture of a forest and photographs of Guantanamo Bay-eerie rendition locations-lift the veil in art form on government methods to counter terror.

"Extraordinary rendition involved very ordinary places," says artist Edmund Clark, pointing at the forest picture, part of a new exhibition, War of Terror, which is running in London through Aug 28.

The exhibition's loose sequence starts with the theme of extraordinary rendition followed by photographs of the Guantanamo Bay prison and ends with the experience of a man subject to a form of house arrest for suspected jihadists in Britain.

British photographer Clark uses multimedia installations to portray "the unseen processes, sights and forms of control and incarceration" used by governments in the name of counterterrorism.

Extraordinary rendition, whereby suspects were transferred covertly to a third country or to US-run detention centers, became controversial immediately after it began following the terrorists attacks on Sept 11, 2001.

According to the Open Society foundation, there have been more than 100 individuals rendered by the CIA.

The Council of Europe found that 14 European countries had tolerated the secret transfer of terror suspects by the United States.

"I've used as many visual forms as possible to show the spectacle and scale. My aim is to show that the war on terror affects not only the geopolitical sphere but also the personal," Clark says.

"The theme that underpins everything is how terror affects all of our lives and changes the way we think about fear."

For the artist, it was important that the audience understand that some of the forms of control took place in ordinary places like suburban houses, hotels, or forests hiding military bases, and that inmates led normal lives before being taken away.

"Because of the media, it is easy to feel disconnected from these subjects," he says.

Clark became interested in the topic after he took some photographs of ex-Guantanamo prisoners having returned home to Britain.

He found the contrast between the lives of these people while in prison and their return to normality fascinating, and felt the need to expose this.