Doing a Lynndie with a chastity belt

Photography

TECHNIcal details

Title
Doing a Lynndie with a chastity belt


Production date
2006


Dimensions
31" x 4" x 78"


Support
diasec, aluminium, caisse américaine

CREDITS

Artistic direction
Sandy Amerio


Technical direction
Patricia Canino


Assistant
Antoine Delage

There are some news images that touch a particular chord, which have more impact on us than others. Which can even start to obsess us. The Abu Ghraib torture photographs, which were made public on 28 April 2004, left me astonished and indignant. Particularly disturbing was a picture of Lynndie England holding a crumpled prisoner on a leash, and another of her pointing like a child with a pretend gun at a prisoner's genitals, a cigarette dangling from her lips. I don't know whether it was the photographs themselves and the fact that they looked like snapshots taken during a 'Holiday in Hell' that unsettled me, or their constant juxtaposition in the media with pictures of Lynndie England as a child, a melancholy teenager... An innocent. Something in this unattractive face with its sealed fate touched me. The media dubbed her "The disgraced soldier", but for me she was an icon in reverse. A sentiment echoed by the numerous individuals, both famous and unknown, who copied her pose on the Internet, demonstrating the extent to which her image was preying on the collective unconscious.

I had to try and talk about it, to confront it, to try not to make a moral judgment, to find another means of interaction, to solve the mystery. More than anything, to discover whom these images were aimed at. To find out what they might contain of myself, of our time, of society. I had the vague feeling that something wasn't "right". It was then that I began to look into Lynndie's childhood and follow her trial. How ironic that Lynndie, whose childhood dream was to become a storm chaser, should find herself at the eye of a global media tornado. Lynndie's psychological profile revealed a young woman in thrall to the army and her lover, Granner, by whom she was pregnant at the time of the events. Cognitively impaired, Lynndie was oxygen-deprived at birth and has a low IQ. She is judged by psychologists to be impressionable and easily influenced.

I also learned that, during her trial, Lynndie defended herself by saying that it was the PSYOPS 1 battalions who had ordered her to stage fake acts of torture in order to undermine Iraqi resolve and hasten the transfer of power from the coalition to the provisional Iraqi government. I'd never heard the term PSYOPS before. Further research revealed it to be an abbreviation of psychological operations, an American army term for political, military and sometimes even civil actions consisting of "shocking" and "subjugating" the population of an enemy country by spreading false images or rumors. It wasn't an explanation, but at least I had a clue, a hypothesis, as to why I felt such concern and suspicion when looking at the photos.






1 Since 2010 the term PSYOPS is not used anymore by the Department of Defense of the United States, replaced by Military Information Support Operations (MISO, Support Operations Military Information)




Text

by Stéphanie Airaud

INTERVIEW

by Frank Lamy and Julien Blanpied

PERFORMANCE

Leaflets

Share

Facebook