September 18, 2018 - Center for Architecture - Spaces of Disappearance: The Architecture of Extraordinary Rendition
e-flux Architecture
September 18, 2018
September 18, 2018

Center for Architecture

Aerial image of the “salt pit,” a former brick factory turned CIA-run black site in Afghanistan. Image: Google, DigitalGlobe. Creative by Isaac Gertman / The Independent Group.


Spaces of Disappearance: The Architecture of Extraordinary Rendition 
Book Presentation and Panel Discussion 
September 21, 2018, 6pm

Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place
New York City, New York 10012

In 2006, then-President George W. Bush officially acknowledged the existence of the secret CIA Enhanced Interrogation program. Between the attacks of September 11 and Bush's announcement, the CIA had been shuttling suspected terrorists and “persons of interest” around the world in order to detain and interrogate them at black site facilities, the details and locations of which remain classified to this day.

By interrogating the sovereign claims of American power and the architectural spaces of its secret prisons, Spaces of Disappearance traces the multiple spatial manifestations of the so-called War on Terror and attempts to reconstruct sites, subjects, and histories that have been rendered intentionally abstract and beyond representation. In this, his debut, Jordan H. Carver compiles an original archive of architectural representations, redacted documents, and media reports to build a frightening, if knowingly incomplete, spatial history of post-9/11 extraordinary rendition.

Framed with an introductory essay by architectural historian and theorist Felicity D. Scott, Spaces of Disappearance shows how architectures of confinement were designed to deny prisoners their human subjectivity and describes how the spectacle of government bureaucracy is used as a substitute for accountability.

On September 21, the Center for Architecture welcomes Carver for a conversation with Laura Pitter, Senior National Security Counsel at Human Rights Watch and Amrit Singh of the Open Society Justice Initiative. The conversation will be moderated by Reinhold Martin, Professor of Architecture at Columbia GSAPP.

"This affecting and harrowing book examines the spatial manifestations of the War on Terror. From the uncertain sovereign spaces of Guantanamo Bay to the prefabricated metal cells that are used to house detainees in black sites, to the globally disbursed architecture of torture and disappearance, this book's focus on extraordinary rendition illuminates the uneven spatio-temporal distributions of power and violence." —Laleh Khalili, Author of Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies

"State violence is intrinsically entangled with the function of the secret, but in an era of hyper-visibility, secrecy takes on different dimensions. With a thorough analysis of architectural plans, documents, and photographs, this book demonstrates how secrets can be hidden in plain sight, as different shades of the mundane. Jordan H. Carver does not show us torture, killing, or illegal detention but the attempt to mask, redact, and obfuscate these crimes. In this book, 'negative evidence'—the withdrawal of evidence—operates as evidence in its own right." —Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture

Jordan H. Carver, Author, Spaces of Disappearance: The Architecture of Extraordinary Rendition 
Laura Pitter, Senior National Security Counsel, Human Rights Watch – US Program
Amrit Singh, Head, Accountability, Liberty & Transparency Cluster, Open Society Justice Initiative

Reinhold Martin, Professor of Architecture, Columbia GSAPP

Registration required here.

Jordan H. Carver is a writer, researcher, and educator who works on space, politics, and culture. He is a contributing editor to the Avery Review, a core member of Who Builds Your Architecture?, and a Henry M. MacCracken Doctoral Fellow in American Studies at New York University.

Terreform is a nonprofit urban research and advocacy center founded in 2005. Its imprint, UR (Urban Research), publishes progressive books about cities and their futures. We invite the collaboration of all who share our interest in creating sustainable, beautiful, and just cities around the world. 

Center for Architecture
Share - Spaces of Disappearance: The Architecture of Extraordinary Rendition
  • Share