Debi Cornwall is a visual artist working at the intersection of documentary and fine art photography. After studying at RISD and attending Harvard Law School, Debi practiced for more than a decade as a civil rights attorney representing the wrongly convicted. Her photographs examine the human experience of systemic injustice, trauma and transition; look to transcend simple labels of "perps" and "victims;" and explore the ways in which spaces reflect conflict and its aftermath. “Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play” is Debi’s first project since returning to visual expression in 2014. She is currently working on the next chapter, "Beyond Gitmo," a visual collaboration with members of the growing global diaspora of men released from Guantánamo.
Thirteen years after the first prisoners arrived at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (“Gitmo”), over 100 men remain held indefinitely, almost half cleared for release years ago. Over three visits in the last year, I explored America’s offshore exercise of power in the post-9/11 era. "Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play" looks at the grim absurdity of daily life there through the residential and leisure spaces of prisoners and military personnel. For some, Gitmo is a tropical paradise, the “best-kept secret in the military.” The performance of American normalcy is pervasive here, from McDonald’s to minigolf. Prisoners’ and guards’ experiences can never be equated. Still, these two groups have something in common: life is defined by routine, order, and tedium. Everyone, it seems, is counting the days until they can go home. Of course, the detainees do not know if this day will ever come.
Gitmo on Sale investigates the role of commerce in the exercise of military power at Guantánamo Bay, by way of gift shop souvenirs.