Rodrigo Azaola

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Black sites

Single-channel HD video with sound. 2’13’’.

Black sites draws attention to the widespread use of torture as a tool of institutional abuse and death simulacra, a repetitive reminder of an Orwellian dystopia. The video refers to the ordeal of Ali Zubaydah, detained since 2002 on black sites and currently in Guantanamo without being officially charged with any crimes. In 2012, for a span of one month, Zubaydah was water-boarded 83 times.

At least twice a day, he was coerced into water inhalation so as to fill his mouth, nose, sinuses, pharynx, larynx, and trachea without allowing total suffocation or death. Through the repetition of a simple action —carrying a water bucket 83 times around the former Mexico City’s Palace of Inquisition, built in the 16th century— Black sites is a reminder of the long-standing institutionalization of torture in different parts of the world.

This work was exhibited at Artplay - Now&After International Video Art Festival, Moscow (2018); Black Box, Sydney, Australia (2018); and Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2019).

Installation views. Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. 2019.