Laura Poitras, who won an Oscar for her explosive 2014 Edward Snowden documentary CitizenFour that helped expose illegal NSA spying, has taken aim at U.S. military activity in Italy in her latest project.
Commissioned by Manifesta 12, this year’s edition of the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Signal Flow sees Poitras collaborate with journalist Henrik Moltke and Italian filmmakers to addresses the central importance of the island of Sicily as a hub for the U.S. military’s drone warfare and its next-generation communications network.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica and The Intercept, the media group set up by Poitras alongside journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill (who also produced the Oscar-nominated 2013 doc Dirty Wars), yesterday published an investigative report on the U.S. military’s drone attacks originating from Sicily. The reporting, research for which began as part of the artwork Signal Flow, revealed that the U.S. military has conducted 550 armed drone attacks in Libya and is using the strikes as a laboratory for future drone warfare.
Signal Flow is described as existing on the “fulcrum between documentary film and national security journalism” and consists of three interconnected parts: the reporting collaboration with Moltke about Predator and Reaper drone missions from Sigonella, a film clinic with Italian filmmakers focusing on U.S. military presence in Sicily, and an immersive video installation by Poitras on MUOS, the U.S. military’s next-generation global communications system.
Signal Flow is on view at the Forcella de Seta in Palermo, Sicily, through November. Signal Flow was commissioned by Manifesta 12, in collaboration with Field of Vision and the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, and was produced by Yoni Golijov.