Negative Publicity: a book of paraphernalia from state kidnappings


Crofton Black is a British counterterrorism investigator who has spent years tracking down the detritus of extraordinary rendition -- a polite euphemism for the government practice of snatching people, flying them to a distant country, and torturing them.

Now, with photographer Edmund Clark, he has published Negative Publicity: Artefacts of Extraordinary Rendition, a spiral-bound discordant coffee-table book filled with reproductions of "invoices, documents of incorporation, and billing reconciliations produced by the small-town American businesses enlisted in detainee transportation," accompanied by first-person accounts of trips to black sites, interviews with survivors of rendition and their families, and a recreation of the CIA's black site network.

British photographer Edmund Clark and counterterrorism investigator Crofton Black have assembled photographs and documents that confront the nature of contemporary warfare and the invisible mechanisms of state control. From George W. Bush’s 2001 declaration of the “war on terror” until 2008, an unknown number of people disappeared into a network of secret prisons organized by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency—transfers without legal process known as extraordinary renditions. No public records were kept as detainees were shuttled all over the globe. Some were eventually sent to Guantánamo Bay or released without charge, while others remain unaccounted for.

The paper trail assembled in this volume shows these activities via the weak points of business accountability: invoices, documents of incorporation, and billing reconciliations produced by the small-town American businesses enlisted in detainee transportation. Clark has traveled worldwide to photograph former detention sites, detainees’ homes, and government locations. He and Black recreate the network that links CIA “black sites,” and evoke ideas of opacity, surface, and testimony in relation to this process—a system hidden in plain sight. Negative Publicity: Artefacts of Extraordinary Rendition, copublished with the Magnum Foundation, its creation supported by Magnum Foundation’s Emergency Fund, raises fundamental questions about the accountability and complicity of our governments, and the erosion of our most basic civil rights.

Negative Publicity: Artefacts of Extraordinary Rendition [Edmund Clark and Crofton Black/Magnum Foundation]


(Thanks, Ben Goldacre!)