Suppressed Images

In 2016, I collaborated with artist Heather Dewey Hagborg, as part of the Thoughtworks Arts Residency, to create this comic, which documents the process by which Heather created DNA portraits of US whistle blower Chelsea Manning, while she was still in prison and nobody was allowed to take her photograph. The comic also made an appeal to the Obama government to release Chelsea Manning from prison, and envisioned an end in which a free Chelsea Manning would come to an art exhibition to see her own portraits, which is indeed what eventually happened and made this comic an interesting example of ‘life follows art’.

This project also made me think more deeply about issues related to privacy and surveillance, and also, the power of portraits – as witnessed by the state’s decision to block Chelsea Manning’s portraits from reaching the public. Did the state believe they could make a person vanish from the public gaze by discontinuing the appearance of their portraits? I explored this idea in an essay I wrote for Guftugu, which you can read here.

The comic was published in 2016 and has its own website:

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