Rendition I depicts the infamous scene from Abu Ghraib prison of a detainee who has been chained to the wall in a stress position, wearing only a hood and pants. This image is readily available on the internet and was shown continually on the television news. The prolonged exposure to the horror and brutality of this violent act resulted in a state of sensory overload in the viewer. We became apathetic and indifferent to the individual's plight. By denying us eye contact with the victim it was difficult to respond and yet, by seeing this inhumane treatment of a prisoner we are a witness to the act and are, therefore, in some way culpable.
I am interested in the power of governments and the covert way in which they use violence to maintain control. Our government and the allied forces in Iraq have taken prisoners and subjected them to torture. These people have been held captive and denied basic human rights as defined by the Geneva Convention. Rather than prisoners of war they have been labelled as illegal combatants and as such are not protected by international law. We are able to hold them for indefinite periods of time in prisons outside our own legal jurisdiction and use torture methods to interrogate them. They are denied contact with the outside world and are forgotten.
In painting this man onto a British military uniform I hoped to imply a sense of responsibility and record our involvement in these heinous acts of war. I see the painting simply as a form of action, mediating between culpability and vulnerability and activity and passivity. This piece is designed to hang.