Art review: Combatant Status Review Tribunal, Glasgow Tramway

Share this article
Have your say

Guantánamo Bay has attained mythical status ever since the first detainee was clamped into an orange boiler suit in 2002.

Located on Cuban soil, the facility allowed the United States to bypass conventions (both statutory and moral), unleashing a host of horrors on to suspects in the “war on terror” and produce, it would seem, a vast ocean of paperwork.

The middle segment of Arika 12’s Tramway run, Combatant Status Review Tribunal is a four-hour reading of just over 100 pages of transcripts representing 18 of the 558 tribunals set up to assess whether detainees should be deemed “enemy combatants”.

With no lawyers present and detainees forbidden access to classified information being used against them, it was clearly another human rights violation dressed up as democratic process.

Rather than have actors playing roles such as detainee, tribunal president, translator and narrator, members of the public were chosen to simply read the transcripts out loud. Perhaps this was a way of highlighting the banality of evil.

Moving round one position after each tribunal, the readers resolutely stuck to their task – though a couple took it upon themselves to inject a little more “performance” into proceedings.

A fair degree of stamina is required by an audience to stick with this, and it was little surprise that the attendance dropped significantly at the two-hour interval mark.

An intriguing experiment that fails to hit home hard enough, it does at least keep the dismantling of human rights, US-style, firmly on the agenda.

Rating: ***