Negative Publicity: Edmund Clark, Crofton Black, Eyal Weizman and Julian Stallabrass in conversation

This talk explores photographer Edmund Clark and counterterrorism investigator Crofton Black’s work in assembling photographs and documents that confront the nature of contemporary warfare and the invisible mechanisms of state control. From George W. Bush’s 2001 declaration of the ‘war on terror,’ until 2008, an unknown number of people disappeared into a network of secret prisons organized by the US Central Intelligence Agency – transfers without legal process, otherwise known as extraordinary rendition. No public record was kept as these prisoners were shuttled all over the globe. Some were eventually sent to Guantánamo Bay or released, while others remain unaccounted for. Clark and Black travelled worldwide to photograph former detention sites, detainees’ homes, and government locations, recreating the network that links CIA ‘black sites,’ and evoke ideas of opacity, surface, and testimony in relation to this process: a system hidden in plain sight. Clark and Black will discuss their work with Eyal Weizman and Julian Stallabrass.

Edmund Clark is an award-winning photographer whose work links history, politics, and representation. His series Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out, Letters to Omar, and Control Order House engage with state censorship to explore hidden experiences and spaces of control and incarceration in the global ‘war on terror’ while The Mountains of Majeed reflects on the end of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history. His latest work Negative Publicity: Artefacts of Extraordinary Rendition, produced in collaboration with counterterrorism investigator Crofton Black, explores the processes, paper trail and locations of the CIA’s secret prison program. Clark’s work has received awards and been acquired for public collections in Europe and America. He teaches at the University of the Arts, London.

Crofton Black has spent over five years carrying out in-depth international investigations into counterterrorism tactics on behalf of the human rights group Reprieve, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and other organizations. He has a doctorate of philosophy from the University of London on the topic of early modern hermeneutics and was formerly an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Eyal Weizman is an architect; professor of spatial and visual cultures, and director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London; and a Princeton Global Scholar. He is a founding member of the architectural collective DAAR in Beit Sahour, Palestine. He is the author of several books, including ‘Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth’ (2014).

Julian Stallabrass is a writer, photographer, curator and lecturer. He is Professor in art history at The Courtauld Institute of Art, and is the author of ‘Art Incorporated’ (Oxford University Press, 2004). He is the editor of ‘Documentary’ in the MIT/ Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art series; and ‘Memory of Fire: Images of War and the War of Images’ (Photoworks, 2013).

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6:30pm, 23 Mar 2016

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London