I don?t know if it?s just me, but these pictures look like anything you?d see Madonna or Britney Spears do on stage. I mean, this is something you can see at Lincoln Center for an NEA grant.
Rush Limbaugh

While aside from location difficulties (this sort of thing would happen at PS 1 or a private performance space), does he have a point ? The thing about the performance and body art that came from the 60s and 70s was that it was an internalization and reaction against the violence of Vietnam, of the isolation and fear of the death camps, of the mechanical reductionism of capitalism, of terror that surrounds the loss of soul. I do not expect the largest intellectual sophistication from Rush, in fact I do not assume any intellectual ambiguity from him, but he does have something here. When I was in the airport in Minneapolis, and I saw the cover of the Economist, with the man wired and hooded, i thought that at first it was performance art. The grainy, surveillance quality had the sheen of Dogme 95 cinematic. The photos were well composed, they were shot with an eye towards aesthetics, they were shot with a mind full of intense visual cleverness, they imparted vast reams of information about the nature of the act and those who were performing it. This images were intended with an audience in mind, they were intended to be disseminated, and to be shown to large audiences. These were not the casual, ugly, crude souvenirs that came from other wars. (compare the photos taken by Canadian Infantry in Somila of the beating and torturing of prisoners.)

I doubt that Lindsey England knows the work of Chris Burden, Vito Acconci or Bruce Nauman, but the care that she takes to express the tangible isolation and hatred comes with some v. severe aesthetic training. Better then the all information, no slick packaging videos of shootings and beheadings the enemy does.

What does it mean when the photos are intended to be shown, when they are taken with such care and such concern ? Who were they meant for–Jonah Goldberg told us that they resembled pornography, but in the age of bukkake and amateur girls anything shot on home video that isn’t a kids birthday party is compared to porn. The thing that is pornographic about these videos is the same thing that was pornographic about the Passion, that is pornographic about Terminator 3: The Return of the Machines. It is this refusal to recognize the transednce of flesh, to think that the only thing that our copreality does is engage in violence, not the small, real, human breaks that are encountered daily, but the looming, insane spectacles that cannot be absorbed without a technological intecessor.

There is something new here, beyond the rape, beyond the torture, beyond the imperial subjecation–America has had that from the beginning look at the Civil War Camps, or the Spanish American War or Wounded Knee or El Salvador. It is also not the documentation, each of those wars has had people cleaning up after it, with words and sometimes pictures. What is new is the ease and the casualness that the pictures came to us, how with in weeks they came to Time and The Gaurdian, CNN and BBC, US News and World Report and Anarchy:A Journal of Desire Armed. There is also a complete lack of poetry and irony here.
They took over the same prison as their enemy and did the same things, like the pyschogeographical desires could not be controlled. They talked of just following orders, and didnt seem to realize who said this first, they talked about not knowing the Genevea Convention, and assumed that the performance would be excused because the script was taught incorrectly. They conflated sex and violence and seem suprised that they were not rewarded–maybe that is what Limbaugh is saying, America is a culture that rewards this shit as a general rule, makes heros of its outlaws. Now it cant.