Control Order HouseEdmund Clark

(Here Press, 2013)

In 2005 the British government passed legally unprecedented and far-reaching anti-terrorism legislation. A largely overlooked clause of this new act was the implementation of control orders, which allowed the indefinite detainment of suspected individuals under merely ‘reasonable suspicion’. In the subsequent seven years, fifty-two individuals were detained without trial and without access to the evidence of their case or details of the charges for which they were being accused.

An architectural line drawing of the façade of a semi-detached house, totally commonplace in its suburban anonymity, appropriately adorns the cover of Control Order House, a compelling study of one such subversive use of this modern internment. After challenging the British Home Office, photographer Edmund Clark gained restricted access to an anonymous location and its unidentified occupant (known as CE), who existed in exile, strictly monitored under house arrest.

Edmund Clark spent three days at the suburban dwelling, systematically recording every detail of the property. Control Order House is compiled like a case study, including building floor plans, correspondence between Clark, the Home Office and CE (all of which are littered throughout with legal retractions), and evidence of nothing more than a repetitive and mundane domestic existence. In viewing the forensic-like imagery of this work, we scrutinize every frame for the presence of anything that could reveal the personality, character, and even potential guilt, of he who has been condemned.

It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of Control Order House. Clark’s reserved perspective compels the viewer to question something far greater than the documented case. What are the structures of the laws we wish our national states to implement and how far are we willing to compromise our democratic, social and moral freedoms, to ensure the security and safety of our nation?

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