A Study of Assassination
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A binder containing: accompanying booklet, isolated archives, press releases, 4 stand-alone 48-page booklets, archival documents, black and white photographs, color photomontages.
“A Study of Assassination” presents a CIA document, recently made public, which is none other than an assassin’s manual. Through photomontages, photographer George Selley denounces the imperialist tendencies of the United States, playing on its two-faced foreign policy, the economy and power. Between lessons on murder and vivid images of United Fruit Company advertisements, the artist presents in images this textbook from which he took lessons.
In 1997, under the Freedom of Information Act, the CIA published a document entitled a Study of Assassination, written in 1953 as part of a set of files concerning the Program for the Destabilization of Guatemala and aimed at overthrowing the newly elected president, Arbenz, who wanted to buy back land belonging to the United Fruit Company. The U.S. multinational owned one-fifth of the country and almost all of the world’s banana sales, and was waging a publicity campaign to make the president a puppet of the Soviets. In June 1954, a CIA-trained mercenary offensive overthrew Arbenz and installed a dictator in his place, plunging the country into a period of political instability that would last until 1990. The assassination manual was created by the CIA in order to educate its mercenaries in the act of killing.
George Selley’s project proposes a rereading of the events in two parts based on the manual “A Study of Assassination“. The first is a photomontage re-creation of the textbook, juxtaposing vivid advertisements with grim stories of oppression, capitalist imperialism and murder.
The second part of the book mixes fact, fiction and absurdity, while referring to the CIA’s disinformation tactics, in which documents from the manual, Guatemalan police reports and staged shots taken by the photographer who, in turn, followed the instructions of the assassination manual are combined.
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