Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play

This photo essay is excerpted from Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play, an investigation of daily life for both prisoners and guards at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where nobody has chosen to live, and where photographs of faces are forbidden by military regulation. Since the first “War on Terror” prisons opened on January 11, 2002, 780 men have been held at “Gitmo,” the vast majority without charge or trial of any kind. As of autumn 2016, most have been cleared and released: 61 men remain held, including 33 cleared for transfer, 10 convicted in military commissions, and 28 designated as “forever prisoners,” destined to remain held indefinitely. Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play is one chapter in a larger body of work investigating the peculiarly American normalization of offshore extrajudicial detention.

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About Debi Cornwall

Debi Cornwall is a conceptual documentary artist who returned to visual expression in 2014 after a twelve-year career as a civil rights lawyer. She is a 2016 nominee for the Baum Award for an Emerging American Photographer, winner of the Duke University Collection Award for Women Documentarians, and an alumna of Brown University and Harvard Law School. Her work on Guantánamo Bay has been published in the New York Times Magazine, the British Journal of Photography, and Polka Magazine, among others. Her first book, Welcome to Camp America (Radius Books, 2017), will be available in September 2017 in an English/Arabic first edition. The book juxtaposes images—from Gitmo, its gift-shop souvenirs, and environmental portraits of men once held there, after they have been cleared and released—with once-classified government documents and first-person texts.