The Controversy Over the Art from Guantánamo Bay

posted by Alex Razo - 

Fights over the ownership of art isn't a new thing, especially as some pieces can be priced as high as millions of dollars.

However, who owns the art when it was a prisoner who created it?

This is the epicenter of a debate, because not only are the below pieces created by prisoners...they were made by those detained in Guantánamo Bay.

Imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Cuba, how do you reveal your soul? Untitled (Crying Eye) by Muhammad Ansi Ode to the Sea by Guantanamo detainee Vertigo by Amman Al-Baluchi Untitled (Alan Kurdi) by Muhammad Ansi About the exhibition "Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantanamo Bay", Curator Erin Thompson wrote, "Many detainee artists suffer from debilitating effects of "enhanced interrogations", long-term imprisonment, and systematic humiliation. In their works, the sea contains powerful emotions under an innocuous surface." #landscape #war #prisoner #tears #freedom #escape #usa #odetothesea #johnjaycollegeofcriminaljustice

A post shared by Betsy Weis (@betsyweis) on

Today i visited a very interesting #exhibition #odetothesea #art from #guantanamobay The #prisoners created this Art under strict regulations. The theme of the #exhibit is the #sea, because many detainees use the sea in their art as a #symbol of calmness, of freedom and of escape. That makes me sad. #statueofliberty #muhammadansi #newyork #nyc #manhattan

A post shared by Miriam Zissler (@glimmer_girl191) on

Blue Mosque at Gitmo #odetothesea #johnjaycollege

A post shared by Nissaba (@nissaba_rediviva) on

A painting of Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi by Muhammad Ansi, a prisoner at Guantanamo. There are so many layers to this, it’s just stunning. On view in #odetothesea at John Jay.

A post shared by Jillian Steinhauer (@jilnotjill) on

A few snaps from the John Jay’s thought provoking exhibit of artwork made at Guantanamo Bay by eight detainees - four of whom have since been cleared and released and four of whom still remain in the prison. The detainees’ artwork is one of the only ways they are able to communicate with the outside world. The sea is a central theme: the camp is only a few hundred yards away from the sea, and while the prisoners can hear and smell it, they are not allowed to see it (all views of the sea are tarped off, for security reasons). Some prisoners, like the ones from Afghanistan, have never even seen the sea, and after years at Guantanamo, couldn’t even conceptualize it (asking for example if it’s as big as the cargo planes that had helped transport the detainees to the camp; detainees had arrived blindfolded). All that changed in 2014, when a hurricane was approaching Cuba and the camp’s tarps were removed for four days. Everyone could see the sea, and everyone who could draw, drew the sea. On the last day that the tarps were down a huge ship sailed by, and the detainees hoped it would bring them to freedom. But it just sailed by. The model ship artwork is made by Moath al-Alwi, a lower value detainee of the camp, since 2002; his model ships take months to create and are made out of cardboard, old t-shirts, dental floss and other permissible scavenged items, using glue and safety scissors. He told his lawyers he imagines himself in the middle of the ocean. #johnjaycollege #artisticvision #artisticvoice #odetothesea #thesea #seaart #guantanamobay #nycart #nycartshow #foodforthought

A post shared by Mercedes M (@benzufl) on

Listen to Bill explain the controversy and the story behind the Guantanamo Bay art below: 

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