During the invasion and occupation of Iraq coalition forces detained tens of thousands of people. Particularly in the early years, the vast majority of Iraqis picked up were harassed, mistreated, and tortured. How you define their treatment depends on how you define torture. Is it only torture when, as one Justice Department official put it, it leads to “death, organ failure, or permanent damage”? Is waterboarding torture? If one is stripped naked, chained to a door, locked in a darkened room for 23 hours a day, beaten at regular intervals for weeks or months on end with one bathroom break and one meal a day—is that torture? If your son or daughter happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time while traveling abroad, and he or she was picked up and treated this way, with no charges filed and no notice to family, would you feel that your child had been tortured? The individuals shown in these portraits are Iraqis who were detained by the United States military and its surrogates. All were tortured and abused, and all were released without being charged. The portraits were taken in 2006 in Amman, Jordan and 2007 in Istanbul.
Chris Bartlett is a documentary human rights portrait photographer. His projects have included military rape survivors, portraits of Iraqi former detainees who were tortured by the U.S., and for Photoville 2015, Burmese dissidents and former political prisoners. His Iraqi detainee portraits were first shown and the Open Society Foundation’s Moving Walls exhibition. The project was reinterpreted as an installation and shown at Photoville 2014. Most recently it was seen at the Houston Fotofest and the Hamburg Triennial. Chris has been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Canadian Public Radio, Al Jazeera, and many others.
United Photo Industries (UPI) is a New York based nonprofit organization that works to promote a wider understanding of, and increased access to, the art of photography.
Since its founding in 2011, UPI has rapidly solidified its position in the public art landscape by continuing to showcase thought-provoking, challenging, and exceptional photography from across the globe. In its first seven years, UPI has presented the work of more than 2,500 visual artists in gallery exhibitions and public art installations worldwide.