The Disarming Paintings Made by Guantánamo Detainees

Djamel Ameziane arrived at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay
shortly after it opened, in early 2002. A citizen of Algeria, he had
left his country during its civil war in the early nineties and sought
refuge first in Vienna, where he worked as a chef, and then, when his
visa expired, in Montreal. After his application for Canadian asylum was
denied, Ameziane went to live in Afghanistan. By then, it was 2000. When
the United States invaded, the following year, he tried to escape the
violence by crossing the border into Pakistan, where he was captured by
local bounty hunters and turned over to the American military for five
thousand dollars. At Guantanamo, Ameziane was placed in solitary
confinement and tortured. He was never charged with a crime; his lawyers
insisted that he had been a victim of circumstance. In 2005, he filed a
habeas petition. In 2008, he was cleared for release, but where could he
go? The U.S. wanted to send him back to Algeria; as a member of the
persecuted Berber minority, he feared for his safety there. Five more
years passed at Guantanamo as Ameziane’s lawyers fought the American
government’s efforts to repatriate him in the country he had fled.

Ameziane arrived at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay
shortly after it opened, in early 2002. A citizen of Algeria, he had
left his country during its civil war in the early nineties and sought
refuge first in Vienna, where he worked as a chef, and then, when his
visa expired, in Montreal. After his application for Canadian asylum was
denied, Ameziane went to live in Afghanistan. By then, it was 2000. When
the United States invaded, the following year, he tried to escape the
violence by crossing the border into Pakistan, where he was captured by
local bounty hunters and turned over to the American military for five
thousand dollars. At Guantanamo, Ameziane was placed in solitary
confinement and tortured. He was never charged with a crime; his lawyers
insisted that he had been a victim of circumstance. In 2005, he filed a
habeas petition. In 2008, he was cleared for release, but where could he
go? The U.S. wanted to send him back to Algeria; as a member of the
persecuted Berber minority, he feared for his safety there. Five more
years passed at Guantanamo as Ameziane’s lawyers fought the American
government’s efforts to repatriate him in the country he had fled.

As Ameziane waited for a final decision, he made art. Two of his
watercolors are included in “Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantanamo Bay,” a
startling exhibit on display through January at the John Jay College of
Criminal Justice. The first is a tranquil landscape of mountains and
pines ringing a lake with a house on the far shore, reflected in the
calm water. It’s the sort of soothing, contemplative image that you
might expect to find in the dining room of a country inn, not in a cell
of one of the world’s most notorious prisons. Ameziane’s second
painting, of a dramatic storm at sea, seems to speak more directly to
his distress. Under bruised clouds, a battered sailboat is tossed on
dark, frothing waves, about to capsize. The picture put me in mind of
those moody, shipwreck-loving Romantics, artists like Claude Joseph Vernet , whose paintings of sea storms revel in pathetic fallacy and the
magnificent cruelty of nature’s triumph over man–except for the eerie
fact that in Ameziane’s scene, nature has no antagonist, because no
people are shown at all. He himself was the ship, he told his lawyers,
buffeted by the waves, without a friendly shore in sight.

As Ameziane waited for a final decision, he made art. Two of his
watercolors are included in “Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantanamo Bay,” a
startling exhibit on display through January at the John Jay College of
Criminal Justice. The first is a tranquil landscape of mountains and
pines ringing a lake with a house on the far shore, reflected in the
calm water. It’s the sort of soothing, contemplative image that you
might expect to find in the dining room of a country inn, not in a cell
of one of the world’s most notorious prisons. Ameziane’s second
painting, of a dramatic storm at sea, seems to speak more directly to
his distress. Under bruised clouds, a battered sailboat is tossed on
dark, frothing waves, about to capsize. The picture put me in mind of
those moody, shipwreck-loving Romantics, artists like

, whose paintings of sea storms revel in pathetic fallacy and the
magnificent cruelty of nature’s triumph over man–except for the eerie
fact that in Ameziane’s scene, nature has no antagonist, because no
people are shown at all. He himself was the ship, he told his lawyers,
buffeted by the waves, without a friendly shore in sight.

“Ode to the Sea” includes work by eight Guantanamo detainees, half of
whom have been released. The others remain there still. In all the years
that they have spent living on the shore of the Caribbean Sea, they have
seen the water only once, in 2014, when guards took down the green tarps
covering the prison’s fences to prepare for a hurricane. But water is
everywhere in the exhibit, as its title implies. A livid sunset over a
bridge that looks very much like the Golden Gate was painted by
Abdualmalik Abud, a Yemeni held at Guantanamo for fifteen years and
released to Montenegro, in 2016. An image of a lighthouse on a craggy,
purple shore is by Ghaleb al-Bihani, also from Yemen. He was released to
Oman, last January, as was Muhammad Ansi, whose work in the show
includes a painting of a lemon-yellow bay with a hazy city just visible
in the far background and one of a pink beach, complete with families
gathered under sun umbrellas. “Everyone who could draw drew the sea,”
Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee, wrote in a recent Op-Ed in the Times , describing his fellow-prisoners’ rapture when the tarps temporarily came down. “I could see the detainees
put their dreams, feelings, hopes and lives in them. I could see some of
these drawings were mixtures of hope and pain. That the sea means
freedom no one can control or own, freedom for everyone.”

“Ode to the Sea” includes work by eight Guantanamo detainees, half of
whom have been released. The others remain there still. In all the years
that they have spent living on the shore of the Caribbean Sea, they have
seen the water only once, in 2014, when guards took down the green tarps
covering the prison’s fences to prepare for a hurricane. But water is
everywhere in the exhibit, as its title implies. A livid sunset over a
bridge that looks very much like the Golden Gate was painted by
Abdualmalik Abud, a Yemeni held at Guantanamo for fifteen years and
released to Montenegro, in 2016. An image of a lighthouse on a craggy,
purple shore is by Ghaleb al-Bihani, also from Yemen. He was released to
Oman, last January, as was Muhammad Ansi, whose work in the show
includes a painting of a lemon-yellow bay with a hazy city just visible
in the far background and one of a pink beach, complete with families
gathered under sun umbrellas. “Everyone who could draw drew the sea,”
Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee,

, describing his fellow-prisoners’ rapture when the tarps temporarily came down. “I could see the detainees
put their dreams, feelings, hopes and lives in them. I could see some of
these drawings were mixtures of hope and pain. That the sea means
freedom no one can control or own, freedom for everyone.”

The sea can also mean danger, loss, and separation, or a difficult,
uncertain journey, and not all the work in the show is so sanguine.
Ansi’s pieces–sixteen, the most of anyone–include a painting of the
famous photograph of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian child who drowned off the coast
of Turkey during his family’s attempt to flee the war, as well as one of
the Titanic, still intact and sailing toward its doom, which puzzled me
until I learned that Ansi had been shown the James Cameron movie by a
female interrogator who was trying to create a rapport with him. (The
catalogue notes that he “was entranced by the film, but recognized the
attempted manipulation of being shown sexual scenes while sitting beside
a woman.”) Erin Thompson, an assistant professor at John Jay and one of
the show’s curators, told me that the detainees have to be careful not
to show anger in their art lest they compromise their chance for
release, though some of the work does toe the line. In one of Ansi’s
paintings, a giant, kohl-rimmed eye–his mother’s, he told his
lawyer–weeps in the sky, while in another, the Statue of Liberty,
painted black, turns her ashen back to the viewer. As in a seascape that
shows shark fins slicing through the water, painted by Khalid Qasim, who
is still in detention and on a gruelling hunger strike ,
the symbolism speaks for itself.

The sea can also mean danger, loss, and separation, or a difficult,
uncertain journey, and not all the work in the show is so sanguine.
Ansi’s pieces–sixteen, the most of anyone–include a painting of the
famous

of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian child who drowned off the coast
of Turkey during his family’s attempt to flee the war, as well as one of
the Titanic, still intact and sailing toward its doom, which puzzled me
until I learned that Ansi had been shown the James Cameron movie by a
female interrogator who was trying to create a rapport with him. (The
catalogue notes that he “was entranced by the film, but recognized the
attempted manipulation of being shown sexual scenes while sitting beside
a woman.”) Erin Thompson, an assistant professor at John Jay and one of
the show’s curators, told me that the detainees have to be careful not
to show anger in their art lest they compromise their chance for
release, though some of the work does toe the line. In one of Ansi’s
paintings, a giant, kohl-rimmed eye–his mother’s, he told his
lawyer–weeps in the sky, while in another, the Statue of Liberty,
painted black, turns her ashen back to the viewer. As in a seascape that
shows shark fins slicing through the water, painted by Khalid Qasim, who
is still in detention and on a gruelling

With one exception, the detainees represented in the show were allowed to enroll in art classes, where they used National Geographic and
other approved magazines for material. (The exception is Ammar
al-Baluchi, a high-value detainee and nephew to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who is charged with aiding the 9/11 attackers; he served as the basis
for the character tortured on a C.I.A. black site in “Zero Dark Thirty.”
He painted “Vertigo at Guantanamo,” a cone of swirling, colored dots, to
help his lawyers understand the symptoms he experiences as a result of a
brain injury that he suffered during interrogation.) The source material
explains the detainees’ surprising depiction of American scenes that
they have never laid eyes on: picture-postcard landmarks like the Statue
of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge that might be seen anywhere in the
world, but also subtler motifs, like the cacti and desert shrubs of the
Southwest. There is an uncanny familiarity, too, in the style of many of
the works–that particular aesthetic shared by art students who are
growing more comfortable with their materials, learning how to shade and
crosshatch, how to use line and color, how to show the way that light
bounces off the curve of a glass in a still-life.

and
other approved magazines for material. (The exception is Ammar
al-Baluchi, a high-value detainee and nephew to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who is charged with aiding the 9/11 attackers; he served as the basis
for the character tortured on a C.I.A. black site in “Zero Dark Thirty.”
He painted “Vertigo at Guantanamo,” a cone of swirling, colored dots, to
help his lawyers understand the symptoms he experiences as a result of a
brain injury that he suffered during interrogation.) The source material
explains the detainees’ surprising depiction of American scenes that
they have never laid eyes on: picture-postcard landmarks like the Statue
of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge that might be seen anywhere in the
world, but also subtler motifs, like the cacti and desert shrubs of the
Southwest. There is an uncanny familiarity, too, in the style of many of
the works–that particular aesthetic shared by art students who are
growing more comfortable with their materials, learning how to shade and
crosshatch, how to use line and color, how to show the way that light
bounces off the curve of a glass in a still-life.

The work in the show came to Thompson through the detainees’ lawyers,
who have held onto them for safekeeping as their clients waited for
release. It is fortunate that they did. A few weeks ago, the government,
apparently reminded of the existence of the detainees’ art by press
coverage of the show, declared it government property and therefore
subject to destruction, a policy that Thompson, in a Times Op-Ed ,
denounced as petty and cruel.

The work in the show came to Thompson through the detainees’ lawyers,
who have held onto them for safekeeping as their clients waited for
release. It is fortunate that they did. A few weeks ago, the government,
apparently reminded of the existence of the detainees’ art by press
coverage of the show, declared it government property and therefore
subject to destruction, a policy that Thompson, in a

“I didn’t want to manipulate their work, so I kept asking them through
their lawyers, ‘What do you want from displaying your art?’ ” she told
me. “And they all kept telling me, ‘We want people to look at our art
and recognize that we’re human beings.’ ” It is confounding to try to
fathom the lives that these detainees have had, the conditions that they
have endured in our name while hidden from our view. Is that fathoming
more or less difficult while looking at the pictures that they have made
of the ocean, of buildings, of trees and flowers and the moon, ordinary
subjects rendered extraordinary by the circumstance of their creation
that have, against the odds, washed up on the shore of our city like
messages in a bottle? I don’t know, but the sense that I had, at “Ode to
the Sea,” was of real contact being made. Art is created for every
reason under the sun, but surely the most basic, the most elemental
reason of all, is to mark the fact of one’s own existence in the world,
to send a sign of it out like a flare so that others might see.

My favorite pieces in “Ode to the Sea” are not paintings but
sculptures: model ships made from scavenged materials–trash,
essentially–by Moath al-Alwi, who is still in detention. (It seems that
his latest project, still in progress, has been confiscated as a result
of the government’s new policy.) They are fanciful treasures of
ingenuity and imagination, the work of countless careful hours. Al-Alwi
made his ships’ sails from old T-shirts and their wheels from bottle
caps; their rigging comes from the nets that line Guantanamo-issued
prayer caps. On the basis of a picture, he constructed a Venetian
gondola with painted sponges for seats and lanterns whose glass is the
plastic cover of a shaving razor. There is something magical about these
ships, built in captivity, which have now improbably come to dock on
Tenth Avenue. Their prows are all graced with cardboard eagles’ wings,
like the ones on Hermes’ sandals, speeding them ahead on their
unfinished journeys.

See Also : www.evanino.com

Djamel Ameziane arrived at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay
shortly after it opened, in early 2002. A citizen of Algeria, he had
left his country during its civil war in the early nineties and sought
refuge first in Vienna, where he worked as a chef, and then, when his
visa expired, in Montreal. After his application for Canadian asylum was
denied, Ameziane went to live in Afghanistan. By then, it was 2000. When
the United States invaded, the following year, he tried to escape the
violence by crossing the border into Pakistan, where he was captured by
local bounty hunters and turned over to the American military for five
thousand dollars. At Guantanamo, Ameziane was placed in solitary
confinement and tortured. He was never charged with a crime; his lawyers
insisted that he had been a victim of circumstance. In 2005, he filed a
habeas petition. In 2008, he was cleared for release, but where could he
go? The U.S. wanted to send him back to Algeria; as a member of the
persecuted Berber minority, he feared for his safety there. Five more
years passed at Guantanamo as Ameziane’s lawyers fought the American
government’s efforts to repatriate him in the country he had fled.

As Ameziane waited for a final decision, he made art. Two of his
watercolors are included in “Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantanamo Bay,” a
startling exhibit on display through January at the John Jay College of
Criminal Justice. The first is a tranquil landscape of mountains and
pines ringing a lake with a house on the far shore, reflected in the
calm water. It’s the sort of soothing, contemplative image that you
might expect to find in the dining room of a country inn, not in a cell
of one of the world’s most notorious prisons. Ameziane’s second
painting, of a dramatic storm at sea, seems to speak more directly to
his distress. Under bruised clouds, a battered sailboat is tossed on
dark, frothing waves, about to capsize. The picture put me in mind of
those moody, shipwreck-loving Romantics, artists like Claude Joseph Vernet , whose paintings of sea storms revel in pathetic fallacy and the
magnificent cruelty of nature’s triumph over man–except for the eerie
fact that in Ameziane’s scene, nature has no antagonist, because no
people are shown at all. He himself was the ship, he told his lawyers,
buffeted by the waves, without a friendly shore in sight.

“Ode to the Sea” includes work by eight Guantanamo detainees, half of
whom have been released. The others remain there still. In all the years
that they have spent living on the shore of the Caribbean Sea, they have
seen the water only once, in 2014, when guards took down the green tarps
covering the prison’s fences to prepare for a hurricane. But water is
everywhere in the exhibit, as its title implies. A livid sunset over a
bridge that looks very much like the Golden Gate was painted by
Abdualmalik Abud, a Yemeni held at Guantanamo for fifteen years and
released to Montenegro, in 2016. An image of a lighthouse on a craggy,
purple shore is by Ghaleb al-Bihani, also from Yemen. He was released to
Oman, last January, as was Muhammad Ansi, whose work in the show
includes a painting of a lemon-yellow bay with a hazy city just visible
in the far background and one of a pink beach, complete with families
gathered under sun umbrellas. “Everyone who could draw drew the sea,”
Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee, wrote in a recent Op-Ed in the Times , describing his fellow-prisoners’ rapture when the tarps temporarily came down. “I could see the detainees
put their dreams, feelings, hopes and lives in them. I could see some of
these drawings were mixtures of hope and pain. That the sea means
freedom no one can control or own, freedom for everyone.”

, describing his fellow-prisoners’ rapture when the tarps temporarily came down. “I could see the detainees

The sea can also mean danger, loss, and separation, or a difficult,
uncertain journey, and not all the work in the show is so sanguine.
Ansi’s pieces–sixteen, the most of anyone–include a painting of the
famous photograph of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian child who drowned off the coast
of Turkey during his family’s attempt to flee the war, as well as one of
the Titanic, still intact and sailing toward its doom, which puzzled me
until I learned that Ansi had been shown the James Cameron movie by a
female interrogator who was trying to create a rapport with him. (The
catalogue notes that he “was entranced by the film, but recognized the
attempted manipulation of being shown sexual scenes while sitting beside
a woman.”) Erin Thompson, an assistant professor at John Jay and one of
the show’s curators, told me that the detainees have to be careful not
to show anger in their art lest they compromise their chance for
release, though some of the work does toe the line. In one of Ansi’s
paintings, a giant, kohl-rimmed eye–his mother’s, he told his
lawyer–weeps in the sky, while in another, the Statue of Liberty,
painted black, turns her ashen back to the viewer. As in a seascape that
shows shark fins slicing through the water, painted by Khalid Qasim, who
is still in detention and on a gruelling hunger strike ,
the symbolism speaks for itself.

With one exception, the detainees represented in the show were allowed to enroll in art classes, where they used National Geographic and
other approved magazines for material. (The exception is Ammar
al-Baluchi, a high-value detainee and nephew to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who is charged with aiding the 9/11 attackers; he served as the basis
for the character tortured on a C.I.A. black site in “Zero Dark Thirty.”
He painted “Vertigo at Guantanamo,” a cone of swirling, colored dots, to
help his lawyers understand the symptoms he experiences as a result of a
brain injury that he suffered during interrogation.) The source material
explains the detainees’ surprising depiction of American scenes that
they have never laid eyes on: picture-postcard landmarks like the Statue
of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge that might be seen anywhere in the
world, but also subtler motifs, like the cacti and desert shrubs of the
Southwest. There is an uncanny familiarity, too, in the style of many of
the works–that particular aesthetic shared by art students who are
growing more comfortable with their materials, learning how to shade and
crosshatch, how to use line and color, how to show the way that light
bounces off the curve of a glass in a still-life.

al-Baluchi, a high-value detainee and nephew to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who is charged with aiding the 9/11 attackers; he served as the basis

The work in the show came to Thompson through the detainees’ lawyers,
who have held onto them for safekeeping as their clients waited for
release. It is fortunate that they did. A few weeks ago, the government,
apparently reminded of the existence of the detainees’ art by press
coverage of the show, declared it government property and therefore
subject to destruction, a policy that Thompson, in a Times Op-Ed ,
denounced as petty and cruel.

“I didn’t want to manipulate their work, so I kept asking them through
their lawyers, ‘What do you want from displaying your art?’ ” she told
me. “And they all kept telling me, ‘We want people to look at our art
and recognize that we’re human beings.’ ” It is confounding to try to
fathom the lives that these detainees have had, the conditions that they
have endured in our name while hidden from our view. Is that fathoming
more or less difficult while looking at the pictures that they have made
of the ocean, of buildings, of trees and flowers and the moon, ordinary
subjects rendered extraordinary by the circumstance of their creation
that have, against the odds, washed up on the shore of our city like
messages in a bottle? I don’t know, but the sense that I had, at “Ode to
the Sea,” was of real contact being made. Art is created for every
reason under the sun, but surely the most basic, the most elemental
reason of all, is to mark the fact of one’s own existence in the world,
to send a sign of it out like a flare so that others might see.

My favorite pieces in “Ode to the Sea” are not paintings but
sculptures: model ships made from scavenged materials–trash,
essentially–by Moath al-Alwi, who is still in detention. (It seems that
his latest project, still in progress, has been confiscated as a result
of the government’s new policy.) They are fanciful treasures of
ingenuity and imagination, the work of countless careful hours. Al-Alwi
made his ships’ sails from old T-shirts and their wheels from bottle
caps; their rigging comes from the nets that line Guantanamo-issued
prayer caps. On the basis of a picture, he constructed a Venetian
gondola with painted sponges for seats and lanterns whose glass is the
plastic cover of a shaving razor. There is something magical about these
ships, built in captivity, which have now improbably come to dock on
Tenth Avenue. Their prows are all graced with cardboard eagles’ wings,
like the ones on Hermes’ sandals, speeding them ahead on their
unfinished journeys.

See Also : www.theguardian.com

W hen Moath al-Alwi wants to get his mind out of the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay , where he has been held without charge for almost 16 years, he builds model ships.

“A ship expresses rescue,” he told his lawyer during a recent visit. “Noah was able to rescue people and animals on Earth with a ship. That is why I love to build ships.”

One of his ships, Giant – with a hull of cardboard and rigging made out of T-shirt fibers – is currently on display in an exhibition of work by current and former detainees in New York City.

One of his ships, Giant – with a hull of cardboard and rigging made out of T-shirt fibers – is currently on display in

But another ship he recently finished was seized by camp officials in response to the exhibition, according his lawyer, Beth Jacob. Its fate is unclear.

After the exhibition opened at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in October, the US Department of Defense announced that it would not only prevent artworks from leaving Guantanamo, but that it would also take inmates’ artwork away from them – and might destroy them .

After the exhibition opened at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in October, the US Department of Defense announced that it would not only prevent artworks from leaving Guantanamo, but that it would also take inmates’ artwork away from them – and might

After finding out that some artworks had been sold, the Pentagon “effectively eliminated transfer of detainee produced artwork from the detention facility”, a spokesman, Maj Ben Sakrisson, told the Guardian via email.

Lawyers for some of the remaining 41 prisoners in Guantanamo say that since the exhibition began, the camp administration has taken away finished artworks from detainees, and that camp officials have not allowed art to exit the facility, which was previously permitted.

This has caused “anguish and concern” among the detainees, some of whom “are manifesting the physical and psychological stress resulting from this new and still-evolving policy”, said Jacob, who has four clients in Guantanamo.

“In prison, you are so deeply connected to your stuff that taking away your artworks is like taking away your children,” said the former detainee Mansoor Adayfi.

While detainees may continue attending weekly art classes, they can only keep a limited number of artworks, which will all be US government property, said Sakrisson.

He did not elaborate on what would happen to removed art, but the Miami Herald reported that artworks may be archived rather than burned.

Jacob said it remained unclear what “archiving” meant and whether the art would ever be seen. “Hiding the artwork is a form of censorship, not far removed from the original statement that it would be destroyed.”

The art program at Guantanamo began in in the later years of George W Bush’s presidency and was promoted by the camp administration. Artworks were given as gifts to lawyers, after being thoroughly checked for secret messages.

by the camp administration. Artworks were given as gifts to lawyers, after being thoroughly checked for secret messages.

Adayfi, who was released in July 2016 after 15 years without charge, remembers that guards would stroll around the cell block admiring how they were decorated.

“Some detainees made their cells beautiful,” he said. “They made trees out of cardboard paper. One detainee would make the most beautiful creations from cardboard and glue. Imagine! We didn’t even have scissors!”

But, he said, policies changed regularly. The most recent change, he said, reminded him of a time in 2013 when guards raided the camp and seized art and other possessions, including family photos and hundreds of handwritten pages of a manuscript he was working on. He never got them back.

“They were targeting our art and destroying it in front of our eyes,” he said. “Those artworks are precious to us because they not only connect you to the world outside – they remind you of who you are. The treatment there was intentionally to suppress your mind and your soul.”

See Also : www.foxnews.com

Military officials have ruled art made by Guantanamo detainees is not the property of captives but of the U.S. government.

An art exhibit in New York City of cell block art made by detainees at Guantanamo is raising questions about ownership of intellectual property.

According to The Miami Herald , the U.S. military has decided that art made by wartime captives at Guantanamo is government property and officials have stopped releases of security-screened prisoner art to the public.

, the U.S. military has decided that art made by wartime captives at Guantanamo is government property and officials have stopped releases of security-screened prisoner art to the public.

U.S. military officials declined to explain to the Herald what caused the abandonment of the years-long practice of releasing detainee art after inspection by Guantanamo workers schooled in studying material for secret messages.

Ramzi Kassem, a professor at City University of New York School of Law whose legal clinic represents many Guantanamo prisoners, told the Herald that all the artwork that has come out of Guantanamo “so far has gone through rigorous censorship and contraband review.”

This change — which the Herald reported was at the direction of someone not at Guantanamo — comes amid an exhibit at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice featuring paintings and other artworks by current and former captives at Guantanamo.

According to the exhibit’s website , the art show, which is on view through the end of January, “will display some of these evocative works, made by men held without trial, some for nearly 15 years, who paint the sea again and again although they cannot reach it.”

, the art show, which is on view through the end of January, “will display some of these evocative works, made by men held without trial, some for nearly 15 years, who paint the sea again and again although they cannot reach it.”

A Pentagon spokesman told the Herald that all Guantanamo detainee art is “property of the U.S. government” and “questions remain on where the money for the sales was going.”

The spokesman added in a statement: “The appropriate disposition of this property has been clarified with our staff at the detention facility and will be accounted for according to applicable local procedures in the future.”

Attorney Ramzi Kassem told the Herald that one captive was told “art would not be allowed out of the prison.” Now, the Herald said, if a captive gets to leave Guantanamo “their art would not even be allowed out with them and would be incinerated instead.”

Art classes were first offered to the Guantanamo captives in the later years of the Bush administration, as officials explored ways to keep detainees who had spent years in single-cell lockups occupied and preventing them from getting into fights with the guards.

Fox News previously reported that the support for Guantanamo now from the Trump administration represents a complete reversal of eight years of efforts to close it. The Obama administration sent no new detainees there, and though it didn’t fulfill a promise to shut it down, whittled the population from 242 to 41.

previously reported that the support for Guantanamo now from the Trump administration represents a complete reversal of eight years of efforts to close it. The Obama administration sent no new detainees there, and though it didn’t fulfill a promise to shut it down, whittled the population from 242 to 41.

Djamel Ameziane arrived at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay
shortly after it opened, in early 2002. A citizen of Algeria, he had
left his country during its civil war in the early nineties and sought
refuge first in Vienna, where he worked as a chef, and then, when his
visa expired, in Montreal. After his application for Canadian asylum was
denied, Ameziane went to live in Afghanistan. By then, it was 2000. When
the United States invaded, the following year, he tried to escape the
violence by crossing the border into Pakistan, where he was captured by
local bounty hunters and turned over to the American military for five
thousand dollars. At Guantanamo, Ameziane was placed in solitary
confinement and tortured. He was never charged with a crime; his lawyers
insisted that he had been a victim of circumstance. In 2005, he filed a
habeas petition. In 2008, he was cleared for release, but where could he
go? The U.S. wanted to send him back to Algeria; as a member of the
persecuted Berber minority, he feared for his safety there. Five more
years passed at Guantanamo as Ameziane’s lawyers fought the American
government’s efforts to repatriate him in the country he had fled.

Ameziane arrived at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay
shortly after it opened, in early 2002. A citizen of Algeria, he had
left his country during its civil war in the early nineties and sought
refuge first in Vienna, where he worked as a chef, and then, when his
visa expired, in Montreal. After his application for Canadian asylum was
denied, Ameziane went to live in Afghanistan. By then, it was 2000. When
the United States invaded, the following year, he tried to escape the
violence by crossing the border into Pakistan, where he was captured by
local bounty hunters and turned over to the American military for five
thousand dollars. At Guantanamo, Ameziane was placed in solitary
confinement and tortured. He was never charged with a crime; his lawyers
insisted that he had been a victim of circumstance. In 2005, he filed a
habeas petition. In 2008, he was cleared for release, but where could he
go? The U.S. wanted to send him back to Algeria; as a member of the
persecuted Berber minority, he feared for his safety there. Five more
years passed at Guantanamo as Ameziane’s lawyers fought the American
government’s efforts to repatriate him in the country he had fled.

As Ameziane waited for a final decision, he made art. Two of his
watercolors are included in “Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantanamo Bay,” a
startling exhibit on display through January at the John Jay College of
Criminal Justice. The first is a tranquil landscape of mountains and
pines ringing a lake with a house on the far shore, reflected in the
calm water. It’s the sort of soothing, contemplative image that you
might expect to find in the dining room of a country inn, not in a cell
of one of the world’s most notorious prisons. Ameziane’s second
painting, of a dramatic storm at sea, seems to speak more directly to
his distress. Under bruised clouds, a battered sailboat is tossed on
dark, frothing waves, about to capsize. The picture put me in mind of
those moody, shipwreck-loving Romantics, artists like Claude Joseph Vernet , whose paintings of sea storms revel in pathetic fallacy and the
magnificent cruelty of nature’s triumph over man–except for the eerie
fact that in Ameziane’s scene, nature has no antagonist, because no
people are shown at all. He himself was the ship, he told his lawyers,
buffeted by the waves, without a friendly shore in sight.

As Ameziane waited for a final decision, he made art. Two of his
watercolors are included in “Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantanamo Bay,” a
startling exhibit on display through January at the John Jay College of
Criminal Justice. The first is a tranquil landscape of mountains and
pines ringing a lake with a house on the far shore, reflected in the
calm water. It’s the sort of soothing, contemplative image that you
might expect to find in the dining room of a country inn, not in a cell
of one of the world’s most notorious prisons. Ameziane’s second
painting, of a dramatic storm at sea, seems to speak more directly to
his distress. Under bruised clouds, a battered sailboat is tossed on
dark, frothing waves, about to capsize. The picture put me in mind of
those moody, shipwreck-loving Romantics, artists like

, whose paintings of sea storms revel in pathetic fallacy and the
magnificent cruelty of nature’s triumph over man–except for the eerie
fact that in Ameziane’s scene, nature has no antagonist, because no
people are shown at all. He himself was the ship, he told his lawyers,
buffeted by the waves, without a friendly shore in sight.

“Ode to the Sea” includes work by eight Guantanamo detainees, half of
whom have been released. The others remain there still. In all the years
that they have spent living on the shore of the Caribbean Sea, they have
seen the water only once, in 2014, when guards took down the green tarps
covering the prison’s fences to prepare for a hurricane. But water is
everywhere in the exhibit, as its title implies. A livid sunset over a
bridge that looks very much like the Golden Gate was painted by
Abdualmalik Abud, a Yemeni held at Guantanamo for fifteen years and
released to Montenegro, in 2016. An image of a lighthouse on a craggy,
purple shore is by Ghaleb al-Bihani, also from Yemen. He was released to
Oman, last January, as was Muhammad Ansi, whose work in the show
includes a painting of a lemon-yellow bay with a hazy city just visible
in the far background and one of a pink beach, complete with families
gathered under sun umbrellas. “Everyone who could draw drew the sea,”
Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee, wrote in a recent Op-Ed in the Times , describing his fellow-prisoners’ rapture when the tarps temporarily came down. “I could see the detainees
put their dreams, feelings, hopes and lives in them. I could see some of
these drawings were mixtures of hope and pain. That the sea means
freedom no one can control or own, freedom for everyone.”

“Ode to the Sea” includes work by eight Guantanamo detainees, half of
whom have been released. The others remain there still. In all the years
that they have spent living on the shore of the Caribbean Sea, they have
seen the water only once, in 2014, when guards took down the green tarps
covering the prison’s fences to prepare for a hurricane. But water is
everywhere in the exhibit, as its title implies. A livid sunset over a
bridge that looks very much like the Golden Gate was painted by
Abdualmalik Abud, a Yemeni held at Guantanamo for fifteen years and
released to Montenegro, in 2016. An image of a lighthouse on a craggy,
purple shore is by Ghaleb al-Bihani, also from Yemen. He was released to
Oman, last January, as was Muhammad Ansi, whose work in the show
includes a painting of a lemon-yellow bay with a hazy city just visible
in the far background and one of a pink beach, complete with families
gathered under sun umbrellas. “Everyone who could draw drew the sea,”
Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee,

, describing his fellow-prisoners’ rapture when the tarps temporarily came down. “I could see the detainees
put their dreams, feelings, hopes and lives in them. I could see some of
these drawings were mixtures of hope and pain. That the sea means
freedom no one can control or own, freedom for everyone.”

The sea can also mean danger, loss, and separation, or a difficult,
uncertain journey, and not all the work in the show is so sanguine.
Ansi’s pieces–sixteen, the most of anyone–include a painting of the
famous photograph of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian child who drowned off the coast
of Turkey during his family’s attempt to flee the war, as well as one of
the Titanic, still intact and sailing toward its doom, which puzzled me
until I learned that Ansi had been shown the James Cameron movie by a
female interrogator who was trying to create a rapport with him. (The
catalogue notes that he “was entranced by the film, but recognized the
attempted manipulation of being shown sexual scenes while sitting beside
a woman.”) Erin Thompson, an assistant professor at John Jay and one of
the show’s curators, told me that the detainees have to be careful not
to show anger in their art lest they compromise their chance for
release, though some of the work does toe the line. In one of Ansi’s
paintings, a giant, kohl-rimmed eye–his mother’s, he told his
lawyer–weeps in the sky, while in another, the Statue of Liberty,
painted black, turns her ashen back to the viewer. As in a seascape that
shows shark fins slicing through the water, painted by Khalid Qasim, who
is still in detention and on a gruelling hunger strike ,
the symbolism speaks for itself.

The sea can also mean danger, loss, and separation, or a difficult,
uncertain journey, and not all the work in the show is so sanguine.
Ansi’s pieces–sixteen, the most of anyone–include a painting of the
famous

of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian child who drowned off the coast
of Turkey during his family’s attempt to flee the war, as well as one of
the Titanic, still intact and sailing toward its doom, which puzzled me
until I learned that Ansi had been shown the James Cameron movie by a
female interrogator who was trying to create a rapport with him. (The
catalogue notes that he “was entranced by the film, but recognized the
attempted manipulation of being shown sexual scenes while sitting beside
a woman.”) Erin Thompson, an assistant professor at John Jay and one of
the show’s curators, told me that the detainees have to be careful not
to show anger in their art lest they compromise their chance for
release, though some of the work does toe the line. In one of Ansi’s
paintings, a giant, kohl-rimmed eye–his mother’s, he told his
lawyer–weeps in the sky, while in another, the Statue of Liberty,
painted black, turns her ashen back to the viewer. As in a seascape that
shows shark fins slicing through the water, painted by Khalid Qasim, who
is still in detention and on a gruelling

With one exception, the detainees represented in the show were allowed to enroll in art classes, where they used National Geographic and
other approved magazines for material. (The exception is Ammar
al-Baluchi, a high-value detainee and nephew to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who is charged with aiding the 9/11 attackers; he served as the basis
for the character tortured on a C.I.A. black site in “Zero Dark Thirty.”
He painted “Vertigo at Guantanamo,” a cone of swirling, colored dots, to
help his lawyers understand the symptoms he experiences as a result of a
brain injury that he suffered during interrogation.) The source material
explains the detainees’ surprising depiction of American scenes that
they have never laid eyes on: picture-postcard landmarks like the Statue
of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge that might be seen anywhere in the
world, but also subtler motifs, like the cacti and desert shrubs of the
Southwest. There is an uncanny familiarity, too, in the style of many of
the works–that particular aesthetic shared by art students who are
growing more comfortable with their materials, learning how to shade and
crosshatch, how to use line and color, how to show the way that light
bounces off the curve of a glass in a still-life.

and
other approved magazines for material. (The exception is Ammar
al-Baluchi, a high-value detainee and nephew to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who is charged with aiding the 9/11 attackers; he served as the basis
for the character tortured on a C.I.A. black site in “Zero Dark Thirty.”
He painted “Vertigo at Guantanamo,” a cone of swirling, colored dots, to
help his lawyers understand the symptoms he experiences as a result of a
brain injury that he suffered during interrogation.) The source material
explains the detainees’ surprising depiction of American scenes that
they have never laid eyes on: picture-postcard landmarks like the Statue
of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge that might be seen anywhere in the
world, but also subtler motifs, like the cacti and desert shrubs of the
Southwest. There is an uncanny familiarity, too, in the style of many of
the works–that particular aesthetic shared by art students who are
growing more comfortable with their materials, learning how to shade and
crosshatch, how to use line and color, how to show the way that light
bounces off the curve of a glass in a still-life.

The work in the show came to Thompson through the detainees’ lawyers,
who have held onto them for safekeeping as their clients waited for
release. It is fortunate that they did. A few weeks ago, the government,
apparently reminded of the existence of the detainees’ art by press
coverage of the show, declared it government property and therefore
subject to destruction, a policy that Thompson, in a Times Op-Ed ,
denounced as petty and cruel.

The work in the show came to Thompson through the detainees’ lawyers,
who have held onto them for safekeeping as their clients waited for
release. It is fortunate that they did. A few weeks ago, the government,
apparently reminded of the existence of the detainees’ art by press
coverage of the show, declared it government property and therefore
subject to destruction, a policy that Thompson, in a

“I didn’t want to manipulate their work, so I kept asking them through
their lawyers, ‘What do you want from displaying your art?’ ” she told
me. “And they all kept telling me, ‘We want people to look at our art
and recognize that we’re human beings.’ ” It is confounding to try to
fathom the lives that these detainees have had, the conditions that they
have endured in our name while hidden from our view. Is that fathoming
more or less difficult while looking at the pictures that they have made
of the ocean, of buildings, of trees and flowers and the moon, ordinary
subjects rendered extraordinary by the circumstance of their creation
that have, against the odds, washed up on the shore of our city like
messages in a bottle? I don’t know, but the sense that I had, at “Ode to
the Sea,” was of real contact being made. Art is created for every
reason under the sun, but surely the most basic, the most elemental
reason of all, is to mark the fact of one’s own existence in the world,
to send a sign of it out like a flare so that others might see.

My favorite pieces in “Ode to the Sea” are not paintings but
sculptures: model ships made from scavenged materials–trash,
essentially–by Moath al-Alwi, who is still in detention. (It seems that
his latest project, still in progress, has been confiscated as a result
of the government’s new policy.) They are fanciful treasures of
ingenuity and imagination, the work of countless careful hours. Al-Alwi
made his ships’ sails from old T-shirts and their wheels from bottle
caps; their rigging comes from the nets that line Guantanamo-issued
prayer caps. On the basis of a picture, he constructed a Venetian
gondola with painted sponges for seats and lanterns whose glass is the
plastic cover of a shaving razor. There is something magical about these
ships, built in captivity, which have now improbably come to dock on
Tenth Avenue. Their prows are all graced with cardboard eagles’ wings,
like the ones on Hermes’ sandals, speeding them ahead on their
unfinished journeys.

Alexandra Schwartz on “Ode to the Sea,” the exhibit now on display at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which includes work by eight Guantanamo detainees….

“I could see the detainees put their dreams, feelings, hopes and lives in them. I could see some of these drawings were mixtures of hope and…

Alexandra Schwartz on “Ode to the Sea,” the exhibit now on display at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which includes work by eight Guantanamo detainees.

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Long waits for medical care, possible misuse of solitary confinement and inappropriate treatment of detainees were among problems inspectors found at several US immigrant detention facilities, a government watchdog says. […]

Long waits for medical care, possible misuse of solitary confinement and inappropriate treatment of detainees were among problems inspectors found at several US immigrant detention facilities, a government watchdog says.

Alexandra Schwartz on aOde to the Sea,a the exhibit now on display at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which includes work by eight GuantA!namo detainees….

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“I could see the detainees put their dreams, feelings, hopes and lives in them. I could see some of these drawings were mixtures of hope and pain. That the sea means freedom no one can control or own, freedom for everyone.”