Pictures from Home: For Riyad (2005)

Accompanying Text Reads:

He started asking us what happened with Riyad. He had heard that Riyad's legs had been cut off, that they had put things in Riyad's ears - like electric shock so that he couldn't hear and that he was blind. The minute he sat down with us he started crying. We said, "We saw Riyad literally eight days ago; he's fine."

Work metadata

  • Year Created: 2005
  • Submitted to ArtBase: Wednesday May 30th, 2012
  • Work Credits:
    • mherster, primary creator
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Artist Statement

Pictures from Home: For Riyad (2005/2008)

Excerpt from site-specific installation: Columbia Univeristy, Gottesman Libraries, New York, NY

Pictures from Home is a series of photographs drawn from Herster’s major creative work over the past five years, titled After You’ve Been Burned by Hot Soup You Blow in Your Yogurt. The archive-based work focuses on the complex relationships between detainees at Guantanamo Bay, their attorneys, the international press, and the news-reading public. The multi-media work includes the artist’s archive of over 2000 photographs, videos, texts, and audio documents. The material was collected by Herster and is sourced from attorneys representing suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.

Herster’s project presents Guantanamo through the lens of amateur attorney photographers who, by circumstance, developed deep seeded personal relationships with the men behind Guantanamo’s closed doors. Amateur digital photographers have captured some of the most incisive recent wartime photographs. Created by participants and bystanders, images such as those from terrorist attacks, insurgent videos and protest violence, document inhumanity and serve to propagate divisiveness.

In conjunction with this photographic work, Herster includes personal narratives gathered from the terrorist suspects. These intimate stories tell the tales of detainees with everyday family woes, anxiety over missing loved ones, and longing for familiar landscapes. The Guantánamo Project highlights the power of photography to build trust and facilitate relationships in extreme circumstances of anxiety and isolation.


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