Clinton Fein's latest exhibition, Torture, scheduled to open at Toomey Tourell Gallery in San Francisco in January 2007 is a shocking and defiant exploration of America's approach to torture under the Bush administration.
A series of staged and digitally manipulated photographic images recreate the infamous torture scenes from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, transforming the diffuse, muted and low-resolution images into large-scale, vivid, powerful and frightening reproductions.
Fein focuses on the choreography and sexualization of torture, which includes images of prisoners stripped naked, wearing hoods or sandbags as they're forced to stand in excruciatingly uncomfortable positions, simulate sexually degrading acts, be plastered with feces and be subject to egregious humiliation. In spite of the horror, the images, stylized with fashion-photography lighting, radiate a profound beauty and eroticism that is all at once seductive, disturbing and unsettling.
Fein's deliberate rejection of blurring, obscuring or even shading the blatant nudity in his images is a response to the blurring of genitals that characterized the images released to the public, and is consistent with Fein's history of challenging the notions of decency, which included a Supreme Court victory over United Sates Attorney General, Janet Reno. "If one was to question which was obscene - the display of someone's ass cheeks or graphic displays of torture, I don't think there ought to be any confusion," said Fein. "Obfuscation is at the heart of what is happening with the torture debate."
Born in Johannesburg in 1964, Fein's work has achieved international recognition and his previous exhibitions in both San Francisco and New York have been fraught with controversy. The Torture exhibition runs from January 4, 2007 through February 3, 2007 at Toomey Tourell gallery. Additional information can be found at www.clintonfein.com/torture/