Who holds the leash?
Who holds the leash that holds the head of the man?
Who holds the leash that drags the naked, beaten man?
Lynndie England. Lynndie England holds the leash. The news has told us that.
But there is another question, one that no one bothered to ask:
Who is the man on the leash?
This is the man on the leash.
He was beaten, drenched in urine, sodomized with a broom,
He is an Iraqi, he is innocent of all crimes, and now he is something else. He is a witness. In 2005 in an Istanbul hotel room, he told his story.
An American artist was also in that room. He captured the man’s likeness and the stream of his words, much as he had with other ill-fated souls of Abu Ghraib.
The artist’s name is Daniel Heyman. His involvement here began with the most infamous photograph from that Baghdad prison: the hooded prisoner.
That stark image became a global symbol of the abuse
Heyman used the figure himself in silkscreens and etchings to comment on torture. But eventually he found the anonymity of the image troubling. It seemed to continue the process that the torturer had started – to strip the victim of his humanity,
He wondered: Who are these people?
Heyman soon found out. He met an attorney involved in a reparations lawsuit on behalf of detainees held unjustly in the notorious Baghdad prison.
It turns out that many of the inmates tortured in Abu Ghraib
They were utterly innocent and they were tortured.
The result is his Abu Ghraib Detainee Interview Project.
Each story is a catastrophe. They began with events of confusion and tragedy. Houses stormed. People beaten. Explosions. Bewilderment. A man taken away moments after holding his dead children in his arms.
Brutality. Deprivation. Rape.
And shame. The father forced to dig a grave for his son. The brother forced
These events left them traumatized long after they were released.
So it is startling to see the victim’s tale offered in his own words, and rendered visually by the expressive hand of a single artist intently observing.
There is an intimacy here that cameras and other mechanical devices cannot
[Several places on the Web provide more images from this project, including extended accounts of these prisoners’ tales, as well as descriptions of Daniel Heyman’s techniques and mediums. Check out Heyman’s website here which provides links to articles, reviews and his own journals. Good articles can be found here and here with an audio piece here.]