Exploring Secret Prisons


“Fine Print” is an unusual name for this P.S.1 series, in which alternative-media outlets generate evening programs that springboard from their editorial focuses, taking the written word into the realms of the visual and the verbal. Since The Believer kicked things off in December, we’ve seen presentations and discussions of found sounds and field recordings from The Relay Project, the history of graffiti from Mass Appeal, and an “Iron Artist” improvised-art-making competition from Cabinet. Now things take a decidedly more serious turn with the final entry in the series: Bidoun, a magazine that confronts assumptions about Middle Easterners, takes on secret prisons and the rendering of suspected terrorists. Bidoun‘s content is both expansive (hotel reviews sit alongside Sasha Baron Cohen riffing in his “Borat” guise) and deliciously seditious (a Turkish-phrase column helpfully translates such sentiments as “I mean you’re already the center of the Middle East. Imagine if you’d chosen Christianity”) in exploring “the fluidity of geographies.” Addressing the secret prisons are artist, author, and “experimental geographer” Trevor Paglen and Thomas Keenan, of Bard College and the editorial board of the Journal of Human Rights. The engagement between an outsider and an academic should prove refreshing and illuminating.