The Search, 2019
HD display, inkjet on fabric, 19’27”
Following the successful May 2, 2011 “Operation Neptune Spear” raid on the Abbottabad compound, which resulted in the execution of Osama bin Laden, his body was subsequently thrown into the Arabian Sea from the USS Carl Vinson, a US Navy supercarrier. Photos or video were never released of the mission, or of bin Laden’s body. Several months after the operation, artist Christopher Meerdo came into contact with a deep-sea diver who was funding a private reconnaissance expedition to recover the remains of bin Laden’s body from the depths of the sea using a submarine. Through their meeting, Meerdo secured a place on the submarine to serve as a documentarian. Throughout the planning phase, he received videos and audio recordings of private meetings with Marines to garner the GPS coordinates of the burial at sea, videos of previous deep-sea dives, and clips of performance videos from the diver who moonlighted as a professional lounge singer. Through oft-conspiratorial aggrandizements, private enterprise and confirmation bias, the production of knowledge in the post-truth era is explored in the film. As the undersea expedition never came to fruition, The Search brings together the space of speculative knowledge and desire to make visible the narratives (or counter-narratives) of US military efforts.