Discover

Politics

Regarding the Pain of Gaddafi

An all-white room. Four pieces arranged in the center of a gallery that’s otherwise minimally decorated. A bunch of guys in beards milling around outside. Your average gallery opening, right?

But this is Libya, not Berlin. The pieces on display are the corpses of Gaddafi and his loyalists. The gallery is a meat locker—an ad hoc solution to the problem of displaying rotting flesh:

The spare setting conveys just how much of Gaddafi’s power remains. Even the slain dictator’s frizzy, thinning hair suggests the degradation of the regime.

After the drainpipe ambush, Gaddafi was dragged through the streets, his body photographed endlessly. He may even have been sodomized. We can assume he didn’t like it, considering his well-documented traveling harem of busty nurses.

With so many of them captured on cell phones and featuring other men capturing the proceedings on cell phones, the videos also function as interactive internet art– a perfect nod to the art world’s current concept de rigueur.

Post-NATO, pre-execution

The images reveal a torturous relationship between rebel and dictator, audience and participant, abuser and victim. They confront the viewer with his or her own complicity in the tyrant’s murder.

Moment 4 Life

What did Sontag say about images of war?

In a New York Times piece on the torture porn photos from Abu Ghraib, a sort of follow-up to her book Regarding the Pain of Others, she wrote:

“The events are in part designed to be photographed. The grin is a grin for the camera. There would be something missing if, after stacking the naked men, you couldn’t take a picture of them.”

Rack 'em and stack 'em

In our hyper-connected world, hyper-voyeurism has led to hyper-exhibitionism. We take photos so we can show them to other people. We like to broadcast. If only Susan could’ve tweeted that.

She also said of Abu Ghraib:

“the photographs are us. That is, they are representative of the fundamental corruptions of any foreign occupation together with the Bush administration’s distinctive policies.”

Wish you were here!

Just as much as they show snap-happy American soldiers posing with Iraqi prisoners, the photos implicated those at the highest levels of power that condoned the torture, encouraged the cover-ups and attempted to deflect attention from the illegitimacy of the invasion of Iraq.

The pictures of bloodied Gaddafi reveal a government’s fears, too.

Like Abu Ghraib, they suggest a larger narrative of lies, justice and secrecy.

They tell the story of a digital revolution: a revolution borne of technology, of French bombs and Swedish cell phones, of Arab broadcasters and of one lonely, American traitor, Bradley Manning.

Threat assessment

Bradley Manning leaked enough sensitive data to WikiLeaks to sufficiently scare Barack “There’s a Drone for That” Obama into locking him away for good. Those stories of government corruption helped fuel Tunisia’s revolution last year—which stoked the entire Arab Spring, including protests and/or government overthrows in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Morocco, and Iraq.

Manning, the Heartland homosexual, now sits in a U.S. military prison. Just as much as these pictures show Gaddafi being sodomized with that broomstick like he was some savage #OWS protestor getting face-forked by a brave NYPD officer, they also show Bradley Manning being stripped, held in solitary confinement, and cockslapped with the CIA instruction manual.

We don’t know just how much Bradley’s contributions ultimately served to bring down General Gaddafi.

We do know this: Big G (or Q, or K) will never face trial. Not the sham trial of Saddam Hussein or the high-drama hilarity of Hosni Mubarak.

He won’t just vanish either. Not like dumping Bin Laden in the sea or stuffing Che in that secret hole or watching Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign fade into the ether.

In the case of Gaddafi, the violence is democratized and the damage is localized. Rest assured, the profits will remain privatized. Western multinationals’ dicks are swelling in their jeans as they look to cash in on the lucrative oil and reconstruction contracts already being drawn up for bombed-out Libya. Regretting that U.N. vote abstention, aren’t we now, Russia and China?

In a country that spent decades gripped by the psychosis of terror, the Libyan people needed proof of the demise of their heavily mythologized, uber-fabulous, golden pistol-toting Brotherly Leader.

He didn’t vanish. He went on display. The pictures bear that out. And like all images, they convey a truth much greater than their pixel count.

Recent Posts

Tifkas | Rosie Hastings & Hannah Quinlan Anderson

nstall@Gaybar is a multidisciplinary art project and event series, led by the collaborative duo Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlan Anderson. Since their graduation in 2014, they have explored the notion of the ‘gay bar’ spatially, aesthetically and politically by re- and dematerializing it in a variety of formats. Through modes of social celebration, critique, and at times, mourning, @Gaybar commemorates the fight for queer spatiality, virtual and real, whilst discussing contemporary sociopolitical issues such as… [read more »]

Simplexity™: Utopia and Dystopia in the world of Telfar

In a time which has been referred to as postmodern, the grand ideological narratives of the past cease to exist, or are at least reshaped or replaced by meta-narratives1. Idealism and the modernist idea of ‘constant progression’ dominated the 19th and 20th century, nourishing the fabrication of countless Utopias in culture – that is, fantastical ‘nowheres’ of the mind, ‘ideal, imaginary societies.’2 However, in the self-referencing, ironic, cynical, pastiche-ridden climate of contemporary art and fashion,… [read more »]

How to Sleep Faster #5 | Arcadia Missa

How to Sleep Faster is an interdisciplinary journal published by the research project and South London gallery space Arcadia Missa, led by founding director and curator Rozsa Farkas. The fifth volume in the series continues the thematic exploration of precarity developed in the former editions, but moves in to the realm of nihilism and fantasy as a refusal of the current socioeconomic climate. Moving across mediums of critical writing, poetry, net.art, interviews, performance documentation and… [read more »]

XPO Gallery presents ‘Les Oracles’

XPO Gallery Paris opens a new group exhibition entitled ‘Les Oracles’, fully dedicated to the potent, historically problematic conjunction of science fiction and women- curated by hyperactive artist and curator Marisa Olson, with new works featured from artists such as Julieta Aranda, Juliette Bonneviot, Kristin Lucas, and Aleksandra Domanović. Here, Olson discusses the particularities of the exhibition with Jeppe Ugelvig. Jeppe Ugelvig: In which way do the chosen artists incorporate science fiction, or how are… [read more »]

C R A S H | New Scenario

C R A S H Flashing lights of the metropolis. Stretched coaches cruise the steaming asphalt. Never sure what they carry. Hidden behind tinted glass. Like whales they glide through crowded streets, stolid and majestic. for a future IV: but what if we are not alive? Somewhere there among the remnants of the great pacific island, the blooming vortex of the world, roughly between 135°W to 155° Wand 35°N and 42°N in the accelerated rage… [read more »]

Girth Proof | Wickerham & Lomax at Dem Passwords

“I don’t know you, I use you.” — overheard last week at a club in Baltimore, MD Dem Passwords Gallery is pleased to present GIRTH PROOF, an exhibition by Wickerham & Lomax. Wickerham & Lomax have previously looked at collaboration through the lens of best friends, fashion designers, and show runners as surrogates for themselves. Most recently they have identified as gay dads who “gave birth” to a character named BOY’D, the primary figure of… [read more »]

Nissan Yogurty | Kate Sansom

Today, Chrystal Gallery returns after a five year hiatus with its second virtual exhibition, Nissan Yogurty by Kate Sansom. Chrystal’s previous computer rendered show, in October 2010, was curated by Timur Si-Qin and featured Kari Altmann, Charles Broskoski, Lindsay Lawson, Billy Rennekamp, Maxwell Simmer, and Harm Van Den Dorpel. She said “food is the oldest.” Maybe she figured it out that day in Costco? Looking for slivered almonds, and a puffy frame. And also “it’s… [read more »]

Here On Earth | Nick DeMarco

Nick DeMarco’s Here on Earth is currently on view at Interstate Projects in Brooklyn, NY through February 1st. The show is part feature film, part sculptural installation, creating an enjoyably convergent experience. DeMarco casts cut-outs of celebrities including main characters Jennifer Lopez, Paul Newman, and baby Drake into a narrative that is equal parts science fiction, government conspiracy, and family drama. The plot is enforced by a soundtrack full with foley, music, and hired voice… [read more »]

Ask Natasha | How do you art?

Q: How do you art? —Stephanie, 22 A: Other #AskNatasha Natashas include @natashacalis—“I play Claire in the TV series The Firm and Emily in The Possession”—, @natashabure (daughter of Candace Cameron Bure, or Full House’s DJ Tanner)—“…CALIFORNIA. 16. JOY”—, @inatashamarie—“HWIC of Natasha’s Nook™ | Militant WOMANIST | Being Colored is a metaphysical dilemma I have yet to conquer. I KNOW YOU CARE!™”—, and @natashafarani—“Maaf, ada yang bisa dimantu?” I am not jealous of these other… [read more »]

Pier 54 | High Line

In 1971 Willoughby Sharp curated now legendary exhibition Pier 18: for one day, 27 artists were invited to create original works to be exhibited at an abandoned Pier in the Financial District, NYC. Artists Harry Shunk and János Kender photographed the various events, which were not open to the public; the black and white photographs were then exhibited at MoMA. Gordon Matta-Clark suspended himself from a ceiling rafter, Vito Acconci wore a blindfold and had… [read more »]