23 October 2014


"Apollo Chair"


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Self-Portrait "Under the Influence of Torture" no. 30 (Apollo Chair)

The Apollo Chair as used by the SAVAK (above), Iran's most dreaded and feared brutal secret police institution. Perhaps this torture chair was named after Apollo because he was the god of information?   The chair was redesigned by John Duncan and built by Nikola Mounoud specifically for this year's performance at LUFF (Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival).  Performed and drawn under the influence by Bryan Lewis Saunders


"Come prepared if you think it will help." John Duncan






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Announcemnet from daily guerrilla journal Le TITRE.




Photo Gallery

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Nikola Mounoud constructing the helmet from an old Lausanne street trashcan.




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The Apollo Chair rests atop a giant sub.




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John Duncan and Veronika Chekodanova testing the restraints.




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Veronika Chekodanova strapping me down.

Performance photograph courtesy of John Baillie




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Performance photograph courtesy of John Baillie




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Video still courtesy of Michel Pennec. Projected video by Brad Ward, Lisa Moss and Bryan Lewis Saunders.




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Video still courtesy of Michel Pennec. Projected video by Brad Ward, Lisa Moss and Bryan Lewis Saunders.




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Performance photograph couresy of Michel Pennec




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John Duncan with 5 Million Volt Stun Gun (attached to a high quality contact mic)

Performance photograph courtesy of Michel Pennec




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Hailié Ritter and John Duncan delivering electrical shocks and physical sonic blows. Projected video by Brad Ward, Lisa Moss and Bryan Lewis Saunders.

Performance photograph courtesy of Mathieu Ballmer




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Performance photograph courtesy of Mathieu Ballmer




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John Duncan delivering electrical shocks.

Performance photograph courtesy of Adythia Utama




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Performance photograph courtesy of Adythia Utama




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Pherformance potograph courtesy of John Baillie




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Performance photograph courtesy of Anne Lise Rossier Bodvit 













Earlier this year the artist John Duncan and I were invited to perform together at the LUFF festival in Switzerland. The performance was titled “Under the Influence of Torture” and was performed in advance of the UN Committee Against Torture’s 53rd session in Geneva. The UN meeting addressed policies concerning the treatment of people in U.S. custody or physical control. In preparation of our performance I, with the help of two good friends, practiced being tortured for months and documented these experiences with audio, videos and drawings, some of which were later incorporated into part of the live performance at LUFF this past October. I did all of the drawings while I was being physically tortured either by my friends or by my own hand if I was physically able and there was no risk of permanent injury or accidental death. During the performance, the drawings were exhibited at Galerie Humus in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

As painful and horrific as some of the tortures I experienced were, I knew full well that these acts would end and that I had final control over them. However, I could not have imagined how truly evil and depraved politicians and agents of the United States had been in regards to torture and even then the true brutal extent of which was still kept secret from the UN. Make no mistake, I feel very strongly for victims of torture. In no way do I wish to equate my experiences with theirs or belittle or ridicule their experiences with art. My goal was simply to create a different way of bringing awareness to something that is currently happening in over 200 countries throughout the world.  


LUFF Performance Video (excerpt)


UN Committee Against Torture’s (concluding observations)


Recent Senate Intelligence Report pdf






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1- Black Hood Over Eyes Taped Up




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2- Face Slaps




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3- Head Dunks in Water Bucket




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4- Waterboarded




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5- Bottoms of Feet Smacking




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6- Stun Gun 5 Million Volts on Leg Repeatedly




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7- Half Flying




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8- Tiger Chair




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9- C-Clamp on Big Toe




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10- Head in Vice (before, during and after)




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11- Pressing the Fingers with Sticks (Pens and Ppencils)




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12- Human Pinata with Taped Up Telephone Books Beat




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13- Chopped Up Onion in Goggles




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14- Gecko Crawling on Wall (Stress Position)




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15- Hot and Spicy Chicken Legs




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16- Hog Tied




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17- Body Folding WHile Sitting (Stress Position with Duct Tape) 




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18- Whipping the Thigh in the Same Spot with a Rubber Inner Tube



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19- Cigar Burn on Back of hand




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20- Crushing (with Weights)




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21- Brushing the Anus until it Bleeds




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22- Binding with Rope to Cut Off Circulation of Blood




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23- Cattle Prod across Ankle Bone Reeatedly




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24- Stun Gun on Testicle




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25- Sewing Needle Pushed under Finger Nail




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26- Pouring Hot Water over the Head




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27- Forced Squatting




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28- Half Murga




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29- Repeated Belly Slaps




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30- Whie Strapped to an Apollo Chair