Redact This! An Interactive eBook About Art and Torture

David Schwittek | November 11, 2013

“Art does not have the power to bring about social or political change. But it does have the power to perpetuate the memory of an episode over time… Art serves as a testimony that endures over time, and in the collective memory.”
– Fernando Botero

Hello World Can't Wait Supporters,

Let me first thank you for your unwavering commitment to peace, justice, and speaking truth to power. Your support of World Can't Wait and all it does is invaluable, and you're the inspiration for my most recent project. More on that in a second...

You probably don't know who I am. My name is David Schwittek and in 2008 I designed the website of War Criminals Watch, a project of World Can't Wait. The mission of War Criminals Watch is to catalog and track the individuals responsible for promulgating and normalizing ongoing acts of torture since 9/11: usual suspects such as Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, as well as others like John Bellinger, David Addington and John Yoo.

In 2009 I was seized with an idea: to create an art historical volume that could serve as a response to the acts of torture committed as part of the “War On Terror”. My foremost goal was to address the over-saturated image culture that had arisen since the release of the May 2004 Taguba report, and the subsequent reportage by Sy Hersh and 60 Minutes.

Working together with War Criminals Watch/World Can’t Wait, we developed Redact This! Artists Against Torture, an artistic response to acts of torture during the War on Terror, acts that continue to this day. By elevating the subject of torture to the realm of fine art, Redact This! invites us not to consume the images, but to contemplate them. They serve to “perpetuate the memory” of these acts so that the people of the world never halt their struggle to end torture. In each of the pieces found in this book, there is a richer meaning than the formal qualities or subject matter can convey; each stands on its own as a unique protest against the use of torture, anywhere, everywhere, for any reason, always.  

I was thankfully funded to design and produce a small number of print copies of Redact This!, and off to the publishers they went. Sadly, there was little to no response from these publishers and, the few responses I did receive could be reduced down to three small words: "no thank you".

In 2012, volunteers from World Can't Wait and I decided to develop the project into an interactive, media-rich ebook (for the iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc.) and distribute this book online. The benefits are three-fold: 1.) We become the publishers; 2.) some of the most meaningful work done on the subject of torture is installation or performance art, and thus can't be printed; and finally 3.) torture continues to this day, and thus the subject continues to evolve.

An ebook can evolve with it… and so can those who read it.

This is where you come in: We have recently launched a KickStarter campaign to fund the production of this ebook. For a $25 pledge, you can help kick start this project and receive a copy of the book. If a thousand of you give this $25 pledge, we'll be funded! We have a slew of great rewards starting at just $15, including a signed first edition of Fernando Botero's Circus, an original Dread Scott print – even internships-for-a-day at World Can't Wait and FlickerLab, the studio we've partnered with to develop the Redact This! ebook.

We only have until December 22 to get this project fully funded, so please take a look at our KickStarter page, watch the cool pitch video, and see the full project description. And please pledge whatever you can: not just to be part of the project, but to be part of the movement!

Thank you again, for everything you do!

- David Schwittek

Main Torture Redact This! An Interactive eBook About Art and Torture


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.