Guided by voices, 2004
16mm film 1:35 min

When the images from Abu Ghraib were released, I’d been reading an account of Joan of Arc’s life that stated she’d been wearing a hood while burning on the stake. Lynndie England, the low ranking private who became the sole focus of the investigation into the torture of detainees by American soldiers, reminded me of someone I’d always considered a role model. 

Lynndie and Joan share a lot more in common than their poverty, spiritual, and military backgrounds; both women were guided by voices beyond their control. Both women grew up poor, were scapegoated by their countries, and subjected to humiliation and rape threats because of an unwillingness to conform to a singular femininity. Both women were effectively, publicly burned at the stake. Like Joan, Lynndie followed orders from a higher power as a gesture of servitude and for love. It’s the radically differing natures of their personal agency that I’m searching for in this video. 

Guided By Voices combines transcripts and video from Lynndie England’s press interviews with film footage from Joan of Arc films from the 1890’s to 1999. 

Thank you to M. Braslavsky.