ID 517: Special Topics in Art and Politics: A Not So Simple Case for Torture, was the title of a class that I participated in at CalArts in Spring of 2007. The main goals were to discuss and make work about government sanctioned use of torture in war and interrogation. We investigated primary documents circulated within the Department of Justice that provided the legal justification for the use of torture. The title of the course referenced Martha Rosler’s video, A Simple Case for Torture, or How to Sleep at Night (1983). The course was taught by Sam Durant with incredible guest speakers (including Martha Rosler, Dev Nathan, Ashley Hunt, and Gabriele Schwab). The result was a group exhibition and published monograph on onestar press.
In the summer of 2006, I worked in a silk screening warehouse in San Antonio, TX, which is home to Lackland Airforce Base. Every week, on every Friday of the year a new graduate class of airmen graduate from Air Force basic training and receive “flight t-shirts”. The warehouse I worked at happen to printed these flight t-shirts, and I collected the test prints not knowing what I would do with them. Thinking about torture and the psychological nature of how one is capable of the act, I created Invisible Warmth. A quilt made of all the test print shirts, along with a sports border fabric. The contextualization of the shirts into a quilt resembles the invisible psychological comfort about the state of war.
Invisible Warmth is a about the relationship between bodies and labor, infused with pop culture imaginaries and how these mechanisms are constructed through the ritual process in bootcamp by the United States military.
Date: 2007, Los Angeles, CA
Medium: Mixed-Media | Installation | Archive | Sculpture
T-shirts from the U.S. Air Force, sports border fabric and wooden dowel, 84" x 53".