Remaking the Exceptional

Remaking the Exceptional: Tea, Torture, and Reparations | Chicago to Guantánamo marks 20 years since the opening of the United States' extralegal prison in Guantánamo by examining local and international ramifications of state violence, while also uplifting acts of creative resistance.

This exhibition highlights connections between policing and incarceration in Chicago and the human rights violations of the "Global War on Terror." It celebrates and features artworks by torture survivors, activists, artists, and collectives with long-term commitments to creating visions of justice and reparations. These works, including those made inside the extralegal military prison in Guantánamo and Stateville Prison in Illinois are extensions of conversations across antiwar, abolition, reparations, and freedom movements.

When someone sits, sips and reflects over a cup of tea, there is an opening for conversation. Through the Tea Project (Amber Ginsburg and Aaron Hughes), which informs the development of this exhibition, tea serves as a contradictory metaphor for imperialism and settler colonialism on the one hand, and human connection and international solidarity on the other.

Rehacer lo excepcional: té, tortura y reparaciones | de Chicago a Guantánamo conmemora los 20 años transcurridos desde la inauguración de la cárcel extralegal estadounidense en Guantánamo examinando las ramificaciones locales e internacionales de la violencia de Estado, a la vez que enaltece los actos de resistencia creativa.

Esta exposición resalta los vínculos entre la vigilancia policial y los encarcelamientos en Chicago, así como las violaciones a los derechos humanos de la “Guerra Global contra el Terrorismo”. De igual manera, celebra e incluye obras de arte de sobrevivientes de tortura, de activistas, artistas y colectivos que tienen compromisos perdurables con crear visiones de justicia y reparaciones. Esas obras, incluyendo aquellas realizadas dentro de la cárcel militar extralegal de Guantánamo y la cárcel de Stateville en Illinois, expanden conversaciones que atraviesan los movimientos contra la guerra y en favor de la abolición, las reparaciones y la libertad.

Cuando alguien se sienta, toma un sorbo de té y reflexiona, se crea un espacio para conversar. En el Proyecto del Té (Amber Ginsburg and Aaron Hughes), que da forma al desarrollo de esta exposición, el té funge como una metáfora contradictoria del imperialismo y el colonialismo, por un lado, y de la conexión humana y la solidaridad internacional, por el otro.

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 Remaking the Exceptional: Tea, Torture, & Reparations | Chicago to Guantánamo publication brings together activists, artists, poets, and torture survivors to investigate and resist the ecosystems of violence that connect Chicago to the US military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Edited by artists and co-curators Amber Ginsburg and Aaron Hughes with Aliya Hussain (Center for Constitutional Rights) and Audrey Petty (Illinois Humanities), Remaking the Exceptional features new pieces of investigative journalism on the connections between military and police torture by Kari Lydersen (Medill School of Journalism) and Maira Khwaja (Invisable Institute), Spencer Ackerman's 2015 Guardian exposé “Bad Lieutenant," reflections on struggles for justice and reparations by Aliya Hussain, Alice Kim, and Aislinn Pulley, essays on art and resistance by Mansoor Adayfi, Marc Falkoff, and Tempestt Hazel, as well as interviews with Chicago and Guantánamo torture survivors. The richly illustrated catalog is interspersed with poetry and artwork pairings by former and current imprisoned artists creating a virtual dialogue across carceral systems. The aim of the publication is to uncover moments of beauty, poetry, and shared humanity within and despite the traumas of state violence.

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    Through the voices of torture survivors and activists, the Remaking the Exceptional podcast highlights connections between policing and incarceration in Chicago and the human rights violations of the Global War on Terror, while also celebrating the struggle for justice and reparations.

    Sitting, sipping, and reflecting over a cup of tea with others can create the space for conversations on difficult and at times painful subjects. It also can create opportunities to envision a new set of social relations. 

    Credits + Additional Resources

    For this exhibition, the Tea Project is honored to collaborate with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Chicago Torture Justice Center, Prison + Neigborhood Arts/Education Project, CAGE, People's Law Office, Witness Against Torture, HeaRT, REPRIEVE, Invisible Institute, and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. 

    Remaking the Exceptional is organized by DePaul Art Museum staff and is curated by contributing artists Amber Ginsburg and Aaron Hughes. 

     Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, an Illinois Humanities Envisioning Justice grant, and the American Friends Service Committee-Chicago.