Ian Alan Paul (US)

Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History, 2012-ongoing 

Exhibition Framework; installation; marketing materials


The EU Bird Migration Authority, 2012

Printed materials; website; video

Guantanamo Bay, or Gitmo as it is usually referred to, is one of those places that doesn’t seem to exist. No one really gets to see the place, as reporters’ and other visitors’ experiences are carefully shaped and guided by U.S. authorities. The detention camp, as a place where people are held, interrogated, and sometimes tortured, remains an imaginary place for all but the prisoners and the national security officials who operate it. Week by week, we seem to read both of its imminent closure and its stubborn persistence, making the end of the prison paradoxically appear as inevitable and impossible. 


The Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History (GBMAH), an imaginary museum that speculatively exists in place of the prison, draws its power from this resonance: if Gitmo exists because of one fiction, perhaps another can close it? In other words: If one form of legal and political exception allowed for Gitmo to emerge, perhaps another kind of imaginative exception is needed to finally make it nothing more than a memory.

The EU Bird Migration Authority is a fictional agency created while Ian Alan Paul was participating in an artist residency at the HomeSession project in Barcelona, Spain. The work acts as an investigation into the politics and ethics of the policing of human migration, and also explores the conceptual divide between human and animal migrants. Much of the materials used in the project are repurposed/remixed media from the Frontex (the EU border agency) archives.


In addition to existing as a conceptual website and critical fiction, the project also incorporates video, photography, and maps that are organized in the form of a gallery installation.