A Study of Assassination is a photobook exploring a CIA document recently made public, presenting a study to become an assassin. Young photographer George Selley denounces the United States tendencies to imperialism by playing with their double-edged international politics, business and influence intertwined. Between shameful lessons on murder and imperialism, George Selley presents in images this study he dutifully followed.
In 1997, following a law on the right of information, the CIA released to the public a document called “A study of assassination”, written in 1953 for the destabilisation of Guatemala. It aimed to discard the newly elected president, Arbenz, who wanted to buy lands from United Fruits, a multinational American company who controled a fifth of the country resources and almost the whole worldwide sales of bananas. United Fruits led a campaign to paint the guatemalan president as a soviet puppet. Ties between economy and politics led to an offensive in June 1954, made of mercenaries trained by the CIA overthrows Arbenz. The CIA had written this study with the purpose of training the mercenaries to the assassination act. This success leads Guatemala into a political disarray, which lasted up until 1990.
In this series, George Selley offers a reinterpretation of these events in two parts, based on this study of assassination. The first part is dedicated to the reconstitution of the study with photomontages, playing on the juxtaposition of bright and lively pictures on sinister stories about oppression, capitalist imperialism and assassination.
The second part is fictional, and plays with facts and fictions while refering to the disinformation campaign led by the CIA at the time. George Selley combines extracts from the study and Guatemalian police reports with pictures the photographer took when he followed the instructions of this study of assassination.
About the author
George Selley (born 1993) is a photographer, a film-maker and researcher based in London. He recently graduated in “Photojournalism and documentary photography” from the London College of Communication, and now teaches photography at the Fine Arts College in Camden. His work was published in Dazed, Huck, the British Journal of Photography, Artpress and FishEye magazine among others. In 2017, he was awarded the Carte Blanche Etudiants award in Paris Photo. The same year, he is a finalist for the Felix Schoeller award, which rewards the best breakthrough photographer. His work was exhibited in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Ukrain, the Netherlands, the US and the UK.
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