FBI Secretly Monitors American Artist Molly Crabapple Over Islamic Imagery

Her file is over 7,500 pages long.

Drawing of bombed Jirjis mosque by Molly Crabapple. Image via Vanity Fair

Drawing of bombed Jirjis mosque by Molly Crabapple.
Image via Vanity Fair

Artist Molly Crabapple has revealed that after a drawn-out battle with the FBI, they have told her that her file is over 7,500 pages long (7,526 pages, to be exact, per Boing Boing). The FBI told the artist, who has reported from Guantanamo Bay and at the site of the Louvre Abu Dhabi (see Artist Sneaks Into Future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Site to Interview Workers), that they will begin reviewing 750 of these pages per month for the next ten months. “Quick correction,” the artist Tweeted. “I initially mistweeted that they’ll give me 750 pages a month. They’ll actually review 750 pages a month, give me what they feel like, and when I get them all, we can sue if I think they’re holding out too much.”

The news comes on the heels of Crabapple’s latest installment, her illustrated story for Vanity Fair, for which she has created illustrations based on photographs taken by a source in Mosul, Iraq—an unidentified individual. With it becoming increasingly difficult for news related to ISIS to reach Western audiences, as ISIS continues its reign of terror in Syria and Iraq, Crabapple has had to work with dispatches she’s received from sources there. Crabapple then transformed the images and descriptions into harrowing sketches.

Drawing of a Mosul cafe by Molly Crabapple. Image via Vanity Fair

Drawing inside a Mosul cafe by Molly Crabapple.
Image via Vanity Fair

“With the exception of Vice News, ISIS has permitted no foreign journalists to document life under their rule,” Crabapple says. “Instead, they rely on their own propaganda. To create these images, I drew from cell-phone photos a Syrian sent me of daily life in the city. Like the Internet, art evades censorship.”

“This is Mosul, the ancient city in Iraq, split in half by the Tigris River,” the source writes. “Since late June, Mosul has had to deal with a new reality: being overrun by the Islamic State, the most intimidating Islamist group in recent history. How does life look in Iraq’s second largest city after months of ISIS rule?”

Drawing of Al-Najafi Street market by Molly Crabapple. Image via Vanity Fair

Drawing of Al-Najafi Street market by Molly Crabapple.
Image via Vanity Fair

“As is the norm in war times, the military is Mosul’s most prevailing aspect,” the source continues. “This is particularly the case when a jihadist group is changing the appearance of a populous municipality. After making several structural adjustments, including creating new subdivisions, the Islamic State has recently formed a military police. Armed men and even boys in beige uniforms are often seen in Mosul’s major streets.”

For more of artnet News’ coverage of ISIS, see ISIS Destroying Iraq’s Cultural Heritage One Site at a Time, ISIS Sets Up Public Screenings of Horrific Murder in Raqqa, ISIS Destroy Armenian Genocide Memorial in Syria, and Threatened By ISIS, Monks Digitize Iraq’s Christian Heritage.


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