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Gallery: Lego Torture Scenes Protest Media Censorship

Retrieved from: Wired.com

Lego Torture

Photo © Legofesto

A few weeks ago, the Obama administration released controversial memos from the Justice Department describing torturous techniques used by CIA agents while interrogating terror suspects. Since then, media and news outlets have been saturated in moral discussions: Should the CIA have tortured the detainees? Should Obama have released the memos?

But few have questioned the media’s self-censorship in reporting on these techniques while they were in use.

Photo © Legofesto

Flickr user Legofesto (who prefers to remain anonymous) was fed up with news outlets refusing to publish images depicting torture due to their graphic nature. So he recreated the images and first-hand accounts using Legos to protest what he saw as irresponsible censorship.

Photo © Legofesto

The use of children’s toys is at once sanitizing and horrifying and many of the images have received thousands of views. We post selections from Legofesto’s series here as a gallery, accompanied by remarks from the artist.

Photo © Legofesto

Legofesto: “During the initial invasion of Iraq, it became apparent how censored much of the images and reporting was. Stories were reported of human rights abuses in the name of “freedom and democracy,” such as events during the first siege in Fallujah and torture at black sites, but the lie of a fast, clean, honorable war had the footage and images to go with the story.

“Until Abu Ghraib, barbarity on our freedom-loving side could be plausibly denied; afterwards, the truth that people like Dahr Jamail, Steve Vincent and Riverbend spoke of could no longer be dismissed as wing-nuttery or hyperbole.”

Photo © Legofesto

Legofesto: “Playing with my boy one morning, putting Lego prisoners into the cells of a pirate island, I renamed it Guantanamo Bay, and the idea was sparked. Soon after, the images of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib were published. Yet perversely, some of the media balked at publishing such horrific images, saying they were too graphic to show. “

Photo © Legofesto

Legofesto: “I decided to try to show the horror, the blood, the fear, the murder, the loss of humanity in the faces of minifigs [Lego figurines], the ‘everyman’ of toys; thus [Lego] Abu Ghraib was recreated using the actual images or from the first-hand testimony.”

Photo © Legofesto

Legofesto: “I only ever use actual Lego pieces (not other brands), a whole array of which are available: differing faces, bodies, utensils, weapons, accessories, printed tiles.”

Photo © Legofesto

Legofesto: It all started in the run-up to the Iraq war. Here in the U.K. the sexing up of intelligence by the Blair government and the dodgy dossier leading us to war were massively contentious. Then, during “Shock and Awe,” staring in horror at the TV screen, watching the bombardment unfold live on the rolling news. “

Photo © Legofesto

Legofesto: “As with 9/11, the immediacy of the images, the response of the people there, the horror in their eyes, was both riveting and appalling at the same time, and yet again, I couldn’t turn away. I knew I wanted to make an artistic response to the War on Terror, but wasn’t sure what.”

Photo © Legofesto

Legofesto: “Sometimes I get ideas whilst searching through the bricks for other pieces. A facial expression on a minifig is reminiscent of somebody, or I stumble across a new part, and the idea spirals from there. I should state clearly and loudly that Lego in no way endorses what I do.”

Legofesto: “All pictures taken with a Pentax K10D using mostly a Pentax A50mm f1.7, or an ancient Vivitar 135mmCF f2.8 lens. Lit by window light with a few ad hoc reflectors.”

Legofesto continues to make Lego recreations of current affairs, which can be found on his Flickr page, and the actual sculptures have been exhibited in Great Britain.

All photos copyright Legofesto.


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