| things we count | 2008 |

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Things We Count | 2008 | HD video | Single-channel | 6:20 min | courtesy of the artist | video trailer

Things We Count

The film Things We Count (2008) pans slowly across the
retired fighter planes at an airplane graveyard in Arizona’s Sonoran desert, as a voice
counts them one by one in Kurdish, Turkish, and English. The planes are monumental,
but in their inertness, they are divorced from any sense of action or function, while
the counting emphasizes their multiplicity. Together these factors conspire to nearly
transmute the planes to the status of models, symbolic forms that gesture toward the
action of fighter planes in tragically connecting countries through war and destruc-
tion. The counting, in the languages of faraway lands, also signals this contradiction of
connection and disconnection; reduced to the simplest unit of language—numbers—
the voiceover will nevertheless not likely be comprehended by the listener across all
the languages. And pointedly, the reality that we are interconnected, that countries
like Iran, Iraq, and the United States are so implicated with each other in politics and
wars and conflicts, and yet do not share the collective understanding of something as
simple as numbers, shows just how big and how small the world is simultaneously.

Elizabeth Thomas


Things We Count | 2008 | HD video | Single-channel | 6:20 min | courtesy of the artist | view from University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pasific Film Archive (BAM/PFA)


special thanks to

F.A.R. (Future Arts Research) @ Arizona State University, Phoenix

Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam

Bawer Bozarslan