Interrogation of al Qaeda Operative, Digital Video (3 minute loop), 2012

Still from Tipton Three Exhibition Space, 2012.
Interrogation of al Qaeda Operative
by Jon Kuzmich

In a decisively minimalist work, Kuzmich has developed an aesthetic framework for thinking through the entanglements between the juridical processes of torture and detainment, and the bodily violences which are committed in line with these legal rheorics and frameworks. The Tipton Three Exhibition Space is proud to include this video installation in our current collection of works on display as it provides the audience with a radical opportunity to confront what we do know about the human rights abuses committed at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp while it was still active as a prison, but also invites us to consider what remains hidden in both the past and present.

Artist Statement

This video piece combines two previously classified pieces of information pertaining to the United State's "war on terror". The audio is from the interrogation of Omar Khadr by Canadian Security Intelligence Service personnel. Khadr is the youngest prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, having been captured as a child by US forces in Afghanistan in 2002, at the age of 15. The video and audio files of his interrogation were made public after it was determined, by a unanimous 9–0 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, the interrogations at Guantanamo clearly violated Khadr's rights.

The heavily redacted document, presented in the video page by page, is referred to as the "Interrogation of al Qaeda Operative" and was written by then Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, Jay Bybee and John Yoo, an official with the Department of Defense at that time. This document is one of three documents now referred to as the Torture Memos. They were written in order to provide the Bush administration with a legal opinion on the use of torture to extract information from Qaeda operatives while providing legal protection for those conducting the interrogations. Since then, the legal opinions of both Bybee and Yoo have been found to be severely flawed. Two versions of this document were made public: a heavily redacted version and a more transparent version in 2009. Ironically, that same year, the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Yoo committed "intentional professional misconduct" when he "knowingly failed to provide a thorough, objective, and candid interpretation of the law". He was recommended a referral to the Pennsylvania Bar for disciplinary action. Additionally, in 2009, an editorial in The New York Times called Bybee "unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution". The editorial also called for Bybee's impeachment from the federal bench. Meanwhile, Omar Khadr is still being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Jon Kuzmich was born in Louisville, Ky 1977 and currently lives and works in San Francisco, CA. Talking about his work, Jon comments: "As an artist, I create labor and process-intensive visual systems that involve the conceptually driven organization of small, synthetic units into large and complex patterns. My work is often inspired by the fact that our perception as human beings is altered and distorted by our belief in systems that we create (religious, economic, scientific, etc.). By virtue of this distortion, systems change our relationship to the world, manipulate our understanding of reality and influence our relationship to the cosmos. In essence, our belief systems keep us confined within a synthetic, human-created world.Therefore, even though I utilize Op-art, abstraction and conceptual art, I consider my work to be representational because the visual systems I create alter the perception of the viewer and illustrate that what we see and what we know are questionable."More of his work can be viewed online at