In 1997, a document was released by the CIA entitled “A Study of Assassination.” The manual was released as part of a collection of Central Intelligence Agency files relating to a 1954 CIA backed military overthrow of the democratically elected leader of Guatemala, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. The operation was lobbied for by the The United Fruit Company, who wielded huge power in Central America at the time. The “Assassination Manual” is believed to have been created in order to “educate” the mercenaries in the “act of killing”. By combining pages of the document with archival press images of the time; united fruit advertisement campaigns; and cold war propaganda, the meaning of the documents is transformed. Connotations commonly associated with the banana of humour, sex, liberation and the American Dream are juxtaposed with its sinister history of oppression, capitalist imperialism and genocide. The images are paired with sections of text from the manual itself.
2018, Homesession Artist Residency, Barcelona, Spain. 2018, Fotofestival Schiedam, Holland.
“Murder is not morally justifiable. Killing a political leader whose burgeoning career is a clear and present danger to the cause of freedom may be held necessary.”
“Assassination will never be ordered or authorized by any U.S. Headquarters, though the latter may in rare instances agree to its execution by members of an associated foreign service.”
“Obviously, successful secret assassinations are not recorded as assassinations at all.”
“The simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination. A hammer, axe, wrench, screwdriver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice. All such improvised weapons have the important advantage of apparent innocence.”
“The main advantage of blunt weapons is their universal availability. A hammer may be picked up anywhere in the world. Even a rock or heavy stick will do. Blows should be directed to the temple, the area just below and behind the ear, and the lower, rear portion of the skull. Of course, if the blow is very heavy, any portion of the upper skull will do.”
“If the assassin immediately sets up an outcry, playing the “horrified witness”, no alibi or surreptitious withdrawal is necessary.”
“In all types of assassination except terroristic, drugs can be very effective.”
“An effective technique has been devised for the use of a pair of sub-machine gunners, by which a room containing as many as a dozen subjects can be “purified” in about twenty seconds with little or no risk to the gunners.”
“Public figures or guarded officials may be killed with great reliability and some safety if a firing point can be established prior to an official occasion. The propaganda value of this system may be very high.”
“The assassin needs the usual qualities of a clandestine agent. He should be determined, courageous, intelligent, resourceful, and physically active.”