Oddly Delightful Museum Opens In Former Gitmo Detention Center

Screengrab from website of Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History

Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

On August 29th, the Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History officially opened its doors in the former US detention center in southeastern Cuba. Dedicated to remembering the infamous prison, the museum features exhibitions of conceptual artwork in addition to essays created through its critical studies center.

Well, sort of. The Gitmo Museum is a critical fiction of sorts, an attempt to reach truth by coming at it obliquely but thoughtfully. Although Barak Obama officially signed legislation that would shut down the detention center in Guantanamo Bay in 2009, it’s still open. In a Senate hearing in January of 2011,┬áDefense Secretary Robert Gates said, “The prospects for closing Guantanamo as best I can tell are very, very low given very broad opposition to doing that here in the Congress.”

The outrage prompted by initial coverage of the human rights abuses in Gitmo has died down in the ensuing years and tide of bureaucratic complexity. But this team of artists and thinkers is using a creative fiction to cheekily re-open the conversation.

There is an undeniable psychological power associated with place, a sense of connection across time. The Gitmo Museum’s brilliant digital appropriation of physical space, though a fiction, plays off of this power of proximity. The site generates a greater emotional impact by giving the impression that these artworks inhabit the same physical space as the atrocities they address. The subject matter is unabashedly serious and dark but its presentation and fictional container render the overall effect oddly delightful.

Learn more about the Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History (and plan your visit?) here: http://www.guantanamobaymuseum.org/

President Obama signing the order to close Gitmo, January of 2009.

Image courtesy of The Atlantic