Zero Sum Games, 2017

Edel Assanti, London UK

"Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton."

The unclassified legal documents used in tribunals to justify the detention of the inmates of Guantanamo without trial or charge. An unconventional readymade making plain the doublespeak of the law, into which one non-descript falsified document is inserted, throwing the entire installation's authenticity into question, and turning an archive into a forensic site. Four 55 gallon barrels filled with printer ink, watered down to the specific ratio corresponding to the percentage loss of density in editorial content at four leading American newspapers over the past four decades. Works on paper constructed out of fragments of captions and headlines stripped from daily newspapers, excavating the poetic, open-ended potential of language embedded in the spectacle journalism that drives modern news production and consumption. A monitor plays grainy archive footage of an anonymous performance, in which a hand holding a scalpel methodically sifts through a pile of assorted letters, gradually arranged to reveal the phrase: language is the first conspiracy.