FW: Do you have any favorite images? Or is that like asking you, if you had more than one child, to pick a favorite?
CS: This work is not so much about single images for me. Each photo is inherently incomplete, because I only saw certain things. I’m not even sure the things that I saw, what they mean, or if that meaning can be conveyed in a photograph. But, I know that they’re important, and they’ll become more important in time. When the pictures are put together they create pieces of this puzzle. And my work is only one small corner of this larger puzzle, one that we won’t know a lot about for a long time. I think of the images more like post cards rather than a really well illustrated portrait of something.
There were certain ideas or places though… that I was amazed to find. There’s that McDonalds. There’s a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. up in one of rooms — it was kind of an unexpected place to find his likeness. There were also touches of home, and people’s creativity that gets filtered through — graffiti and pictures that soldiers drew, for example. Part of the confusing thing about the photographs is that looking at them you might not know that they were taken at Guantanamo Bay. They feel American, like they could be taken in North Carolina, where I’m from. But at the same time they’re not American — there’s just something about the landscape that isn’t quite right.
Sims’ other current project, Home Fronts: The Pretend Villages of Talatha and Braggistan, is currently on view at the Houston Center for Photography as part of the group exhibition Unite and Untie. It includes photographs of simulated Iraqi and Afghan villages on the training grounds of U.S. Army bases in North Carolina, Louisiana, and California. See more of his photographs from Guatanamo here.
All images Christopher Sims. Photographs courtesy of Civilian Art Projects.