Sunday, August 13, 2006

Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq: Torture #1 - starring Lindy England

"This was Abu Ghraib jail. Everything that had gone wrong with the occupation since the previous heady spring, when Bush had stood on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln beneath a banner proclaiming 'Mission Accomplished', was summed up in the chaos and brutality of the old prison west of Baghdad.

All of the post-invasion problems in Iraq — poor planning, clumsy leadership, strategic confusion, counterproductive tactics, under-manning, heavy-handedness — came together in this horrible place.

As the insurgency grew and the need for 'actionable' local intelligence became more desperate, thousands of Iraqis were rounded up in indiscriminate sweeps and dumped on Abu Ghraib for interrogation. By October 2003 there were almost 7,000 of them — guarded by just 360 Military Police reservists.

Orders were received by these ill-trained jailers that the gloves were to come off. A senior officer from Guantanamo was flown in from Cuba to give advice on softening up prisoners for questioning.

What developed was a policy of institution-alised abuse which brought shame on America, undermined its supposedly benign purpose and vastly strengthened the insurgency by its cruelty and unfairness.

In the first 18 months, 30,000-40,000 Iraqis were locked up in Abu Ghraib for weeks to be frightened, humiliated and sometimes tortured. It was later estimated that 90 per cent of them were of no intelligence value whatsoever."
- - - - - - - - - -

Legofestos are re-enacted from source images, in this case the photographs taken by the soldiers involved of abuse and torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

Dahr Jamail photo gallery
Lindy England


Anonymous Paul Newton said...

In my view you make a surreal and discomforting observation about the state of the world. Working in a medium devoid of conventional associations a disturbing and memorable image is created that compromises the innocence of childhood play with scenes of bizarre brutality. We are shocked with the observation that these scenes are instantly familiar to us even though reduced to an absurd representation but a question mark is left hanging in our minds as to the mental health of an adult infantilised by fascination with a child's toy. Beyond this we are aware of the pervading prescence of a large corporation as we try in vain to extract meaning from the letters L E G O.

2:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't it be 'starring' in the title.

9:37 am  
Anonymous vervet said...

Heavy analysis from Paul, and a snipe about the spelling from (surprise, surprise) 'anonymous'.

Best of luck for a future of constructive, incisive comments from 'names' rather than crap from anonymice.

Good to see a new and imaginatively styled blog.

10:43 am  
Blogger Alison said...

I do lego pix from time to time but nothing as focused as this.
Would dearly love to see the "Mission Accomplished" scenario done if you're taking requests.

9:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You funny.. now how about a rape scene.

9:12 pm  
Blogger legofesto said...

"Of the Iraqi images, the most chilling was the hooded man standing on a box, with wires attached to him. He was reportedly told he would be electrocuted if he moved. According to the CIA manual, threatening him with electrocution may have been better than the real thing: "The threat of coercion usually weakens or destroys resistance more effectively than coercion itself. For example, the threat to inflict pain can trigger fears more damaging than the immediate sensation of pain." However, "if a subject refuses to comply after a threat has been made, it must be carried out. Otherwise, subsequent threats will also prove ineffective."

But the CIA manual can enlighten us further about the scandal at Abu Ghraib. The man on the box would have battled exhaustion from having to stand motionless, driven by fear of an electric shock. And, the manual says, "pain that he feels he is inflicting upon himself is more likely to sap his resistance. If he is required to maintain a rigid position such as standing at attention or sitting on a stool for long periods, the immediate source of discomfort is not the questioner but the subject. After a while, the subject is likely to exhaust his internal motivational strength. Intense pain is likely to produce false confessions, fabricated to avoid additional punishment."


As an aside, the man was known to military personel during his torture as "Gilligan".

Last anon, I don't find this in the least bit funny, quite the contrary.

11:14 pm  
Anonymous Louise Studd said...

This is really haunting and emotionally challenging. How can I feel some much trepidation and care about a lego figure. More challenging than the pictures on the news that we have become accustomed to seeing everyday and are able to gloss over. Thank you. This feels like something really important that should be shared with a wider audience.

1:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I'm working on an exhibition entitled "Framing Photographs: Contexts and Transpositions" for the Hurford Humanities Center of Haverford College (, a small liberal arts school right outside Philadelphia in America. I just discovered your fantastic blog the other day, and I believe one of your creations might make a powerful addition to our project.

For this spring exhibit, professors in the 2007-2008 Faculty Seminar on Photography, Modernism, and Post-Modernism have selected a diverse array of photographs from our own library collection, hoping to explore the various meanings encoded in, surrounding, and brought to photographs by various contexts. One of the participating professors, however, is looking specifically at the political uses of images of suffering, particularly the Abu Ghraib photographs, hoping both to chart their dissemination and to provide a graphic context for understanding their shifting sense.

We're currently looking for physical artificats to accompany the photos, and the figures created for your Sunday, August 13, 2006 post "Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq: Torture #1 - starring Lindy England" would perfectly compliment this piece of the exhibition--would you be interested in lending them for display? If so, please drop me a line at Either way: your blog is great, and I look forward to future posts.



6:00 pm  
Blogger nolo said...

i found yours, through
the march 19 blogswarm
against the war blog-roll.

jaw-slackingly great work,
here -- truly inventive, sub-
versive of consumerist culture,
and still manages to be humane,
in a deeply connecting way.

who doesn't love legos, right?

very profound!

p e a c e,

from indictdickcheney. . .

2:21 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do the butt cheek pyramid !!!

12:19 pm  
Blogger legofesto said...

If you look at the rest of the blog anon, you will see the pyramid is there.

There are also recreations of Guantanamo Bay, Mission Accomplished, waterboarding, the rape and murder of a 14 year old and her family in Mahmudiya, Iraq and more.

Check it out.

8:15 am  
Blogger Karita said...


I think this is a very creative way to represent the horrible period we are in and the solutions that aqre needed to end it.

May I replicate your photos and materials, for use on Facebook, for example.

Karita M. Hummer

7:30 pm  
Blogger legofesto said...

HI Karita. Of course images may be replicated elsewhere so long as it is made clear they are copyrighted to Legofesto and linked to this blog. Thanks.

9:46 am  
Anonymous Viagra Without Prescription said...

Cool pictures, Paul has an interesting point of view, the state of the world its a little weird these last years, something its about to happen that will change everything.

7:08 pm  
Anonymous Waptrick said...

Great Video, AMAZING! :)

7:37 am  

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