Few images have been burned into our national conscience like those grainy photographs of human debasement from Abu Ghraib prison. They’ve been so thoroughly discussed and disseminated that it’s almost impossible to talk about them now--or even to really see them--but by no means is there nothing more to say.
That’s why the work of Daniele Buetti is so vital. His series Oh Boy! Oh Boy! transforms photographs from the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons into stained-glass-style mosaics, rendering emblems of the last decade of American militarism into something new--something, well, quite lovely. Of course the goal isn’t to pretend that what happened in Abu Ghraib was in any way beautiful; rather, by defamiliarizing something we’ve grown accustomed to, Buetti manages simply to get us looking at a dark moment of our recent history in a new way.
There’s likely a link to the stained glass windows of Medieval churches, which told visual Biblical stories that were otherwise off limits to a mostly illiterate public. Instead of saints, though, the images focus on the casualties of torture and the fallout of groupthink. So each viewing can serve as passionate plea that we never forget to think for ourselves.