Houston Matters

Photographer Hopes Portraits Will Return Some Dignity to Abu Ghraib Abuse Victims

During the Iraq War, you probably remember seeing photos of detainees being abused at the Abu Ghraib prison. Some of the more infamous photos showed detainees wearing hoods or lying naked at the end of a leash. Photographer Chris Bartlett saw them too and wanted to find a way to use his skills to voice his […]

During the Iraq War, you probably remember seeing photos of detainees being abused at the Abu Ghraib prison. Some of the more infamous photos showed detainees wearing hoods or lying naked at the end of a leash. Photographer Chris Bartlett saw them too and wanted to find a way to use his skills to voice his opposition to how the war was being conducted.

Eventually, he crossed paths with an attorney representing some of those former detainees – many of which were never charged with any wrongdoing. The attorney was interviewing them for a class-action lawsuit against military subcontractors accused of abusing them. She allowed Bartlett to come to the hotels in Jordan and Turkey where the interviews were being conducted and set up a studio in a hotel room.

There he took portraits of any former detainee who was willing. Those images became an exhibit called Iraqi Detainees: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Ordeals, and it’s part of the International Discoveries series from FotoFest International on display through March 7 at Silver Street Studios.

Houston Matters’ Michael Hagerty recently talked with Chris Bartlett, who said there was some irony in using photography to bring light to the detainees’ stories.

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