"John Keane’s terrifying images of Guantanamo Bay evoke the actual horror of Guantanamo Bay with an acute imaginative understanding that only a true artist can provide. Guantanamo Bay is a concentration camp run by the “leader of the free world”. the bastion of “civilised society” in it’s battle against “evil”. The evil of course is embodied in this scandalous and obscene structure, created by the United States with the despicable complicity of this country. This is a brilliant, important and properly appalling exhibition."
Harold Pinter, 2006
This series of paintings grew from downloaded low-resolution digital images of the detainees at Camp X-Ray at the US military base of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Many of the original photos released by the Pentagon in 2002 show the detainees kneeling and subjected to sensory deprivation upon their arrival at Camp X-Ray. The detainees could be seen handcuffed and wearing goggles, ear muffs, surgical masks and heavy gloves.
As I abstracted these digital images of the prisoners on my computer, I noticed an analogy to the essential dehumanization of the internment itself. From these manipulated images the paintings emerged, many of which show the iconic fluorescent orange suits of the prisoners.
The ambiguity of the submissive postures of the detainees interested me and brought to light certain questions - were they attitudes of submissive obedience to their captors, or could they be attitudes of prayer? The low resolution of the digital images enhanced this ambiguity.
Further explorations on the computer revealed patterns not dissimilar to the kind of light interference effects observed when an oil film is dispersed on water. Another analogy therefore suggested itself about the direct line of consequence between the political and military interference necessitated in the pursuit of diminishing oil reserves and the enmity generated in extreme Islamic belief.