Curious about how a camp such as the one in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba can exist in our time, Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri embarked at the beginning of the summer of 2006 on a road trip across the US, starting in New York City and ending on the West Coast. Throughout their journey, Anastas and Gabri filmed the landscape and held interviews and public discussions in parking lots, at memorial sites, community centers and exhibition spaces. In the interviews and programs, they explored the function of camps in the praxis of modern governance.
Motivated by their awareness of how unpleasant it is to be talked at, Anastas and Gabri waged their campaign to generate questions, in particular regarding security and terror, citizenship and statelessness, human rights, political rights and legal rights. They fostered conversations in charged locations—among them Kent State University, where four students were killed in 1970 at a demonstration against the Vietnam War; Big Mama’s House, a self-organized community space in Baltimore; and the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. They encouraged their audiences to delve into the many meanings of “camp,” including but not limited to detention camps, internment camps, refugee camps, relief camps and even camp sites.
Anastas and Gabri used their van as a mobile studio, billboard and library. From there, they regularly updated an integral aspect of their project, their “Camp Campaign” Website (www.campcampaign.info), where they listed their travel itinerary and travel route, and posted photographs and podcasts documenting the discussions they had engendered.
Commemorating their travels and the historical significance of camps in our collective cultural heritage is the last leg of their artwork, Anastas’ and Gabri’s Camp Campaign, a new installation on display at Art in General.
The New Commissions Program is made possible by The Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners by helping libraries and museums serve their communities; the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and the Booth Ferris Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, Peter Norton Family Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Jerome Foundation and George Mills.