Image © Daniel Heyman
For several years, Heyman has concentrated on making images about the war in Iraq, specifically the abuse and torture of innocent Iraqis at Abu Ghraib and other prisons. Heyman traveled to Jordan and Turkey where he has talked face to face with over 25 former detainees, painting their portraits and taking down their own versions of what happened to them. Three of these detainees have since been killed.
The Iraqis detained and tortured at Abu Ghraib, who were released without ever having been charged with any crime, were innocent victims of war. They were silenced, tortured and abused, humiliated and degraded unjustly. I want my art to help the victims of torture at Abu Ghraib prison tell their stories in their own words to the people in this country. The most satisfying thing I was able to do was to listen to these people, and I hope that my art is a service to them by aiding others to also hear their stories. The testimony contained in these works brings an important message to the US — that war unleashes unforgiveable violence on the innocent, and less obviously, that those in charge of the war will do all in their power to keep us from recognizing our part in the violence. I was moved many times to tears hearing these stories, and will judge my work successful when the stories provoke American tears.
Read an interview with Daniel Heyman in Foreign Policy in Focus