Visual Art

“Torture” Photographs On View At The Station Museum

A provocative new photo exhibition features the work of an artist who shocked people in the 1980s. As Catherine Lu reports, the new exhibit delivers a similar effect while addressing the Trump administration’s policy on torture.

Andres Serrano's Torture at Station Museum of Contemporary  Art in Houston in June 2017. (Photo by Michael Stravato)
Andres Serrano’s Torture opening at Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston Saturday, June 3, 2017. (Photo by Michael Stravato)

Artist Andres Serrano’s 1987 photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine ignited a firestorm of debate over freedom of speech. Serrano’s new exhibition “Torture,” which opened last Saturday at the Station Museum, features that famous photograph, but it focuses on the issue of state-sponsored torture. Station Museum assistant director Josh Poole says Serrano went to extremes to capture a sense of authenticity.

“What you’re looking at is very realistic. If you see a look of pain on somebody’s face it’s because they’re in pain, they’re cramping up. Serrano definitely took on the role of the torturer in this body of work.”

The large-scale photographs depict torture techniques like waterboarding and the infamous images of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The exhibition also features Serrano’s 2003 portrait of President Donald Trump, juxtaposed with a statement the President made in 2016.

“It said ‘Don’t tell me torture doesn’t work. It works.’”

Poole says the Station Museum is committed to supporting artists like Serrano, who challenge the boundaries of artistic expression.

“The mission of the Station Museum is to uphold freedom of speech and freedom of expression, doing everything we can to represent the wonderful diverse culture that is Houston.”

“Torture” will be on view through October 8.

Below, see a slideshow of photos from the exhibition opening (photos by Michael Stravato).