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This Art Belongs to the Artist: Art as Human Rights Exhibition & Symposium

April 12 @ 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Exhibition Reception, 2 – 3 pm
Hanes Art Center Gallery

Symposium, 3 – 7 pm
Hanes Art Center Auditorium, Room 121, zoom

Through an art exhibition and symposium, this program explores the ongoing impact of state violence and the consequences of the extralegal prison at the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp through the framework of art and law. The program includes an exhibition of art created by men imprisoned at the GBDC followed by symposium speakers, including the virtual participation of several released detainee artists. Speakers will address the sovereign, political, and legal dimensions of detainee art, comment on the inter-related international law issues and the paradox within claims to human rights with a focus on art and the rights of detainees to own and control their creative work.  Panelists will also discuss art and abolition as a framework for human rights and the law.


3:00 – 3:20 pm

Martin Brinkley, Dean of the School of Law and the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina

Panel 1  History Lessons: The Road Starts Here
3:20 – 4:00 pm

This panel provides an overview of the historical circumstances that gave rise to U.S. control of the  Naval Station in Guantánamo, and participation of the state of North Carolina in the U.S. program of extraordinary rendition and torture that culminated in Guantánamo.

  • Christina Cowger, NC Stop Torture Now, “First in Torture Flights: North Carolina’s Role in CIA Renditions
  • Louis A. Pérez, Carlyle Sitterson Professor UNC Department of History “Guantánamo: From Naval Station to Detention Center”

Panel 2 – This Art Belongs to the Artist
4:00 – 5:15 pm

This Art Belongs to the Artists brings together several former detainees and survivors of Guantánamo Bay Detention Center along with attorney Mark Mahar and human rights scholar Alexandra Moore to share stories of art making as a form of protest and a necessary process for survival.

  • Moath Al-Alwi via Alexandra Moore, Director; Professor Human Rights Institute; English, General Literature and Rhetoric, Binghamton Univ., State Univ of New York
  • Mansoor Adayfi, Writer and former Guantánamo prisoner
  • Ahmed Rabbani, Artist and Former Guantanamo prisoner 1461
  • Sabri Al Qurashi- Artist and former Guantánamo prisoner
  • Mark Maher, Treasurer of Healing and Recovery After Trauma and former attorney for U.S. Reprieve

5:15 – 5:30 pm 

5:30 – 6:15 pm
Fionnuala Ní Aoláin,
Regents Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and former UN Special Rapporteur Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights 2017-2023. “You Came too Late”:  Reflection on the First UN Visit to the Detention Facility at Guantánamo Bay

Panel 3 – Social Action, Law & Art
6:15 – 7:00

This panel will explore the connections between art, liberation, and abolition and the growing interdisciplinary work of artists using their practices as tools towards justice and abolition. Addressing art and abolition as a framework for human rights and the law, this panel will think through critical questions around the law and the fundamental issues of freedom of expression and art as resistance.

  • Aliya Hussain, Center for Constitutional Rights, “Resisting Guantánamo”
  • Aaron Hughes & Amber Ginsburg, artists, “Remaking the Exceptional”


This project is a collaboration between UNC Law and the Dept of Art & Art History, and has been generously supported by: UNC School of Law, Dept of Art & Art History, Institute for the Study of the Americas, College of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Arts and Humanities, Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies, Center for European Studies, Asian American Center, Beth D Jacob/Healing and Recovery After Trauma, Department of History, Department of Communications, Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, Department of Women & Gender Studies, NC Stop Torture Now, Sociology Department, Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, and the Department of Romance Studies.

For more information, please contact Deborah M. Weissman weissman@email.unc.edu or Hồng-Ân Trương hatruong@email.unc.edu


April 12
3:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Hanes Art Center
121 E. Cameron Ave.
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 United States
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