The Numbers installation will be on view for the Chashama Film Festival. A collaboration with Christina deRoos, Numbers highlights human costs of the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan that are rarely reported in mainstream media. See photos of the process of installation as well as the final result here.
The installation consists of flag draped coffins and numbers stenciled on paper then covered with bubble wrap. The width and placement give viewers a choice between walking across and popping bubbles or making a small but extra effort to jump across and avoid interacting. This parallels the ability those of us in the United States have to avoid witnessing the impact of the government policies carried out in our name. It requires a bit of effort, although not much, to avoid the messy reality of our ongoing policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Numbers used include:
32,907 Weight in tons of bombs dropped by the U.S. Air force in Iraq & Afghanistan through 2007
6129 American and coalition military casualties in Iraq & Afghanistan
120 American military casualties since Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009
46% The percentage of air raid casualties that are women are girls
766 The number of journalists and academics that have been killed in Iraq
1395 The number of contractor employee deaths in Iraq
102,083 Documented civilian deaths from violence in Iraq (Estimate is 93,552-102,083)
39% The percentage of air raid casualties that are children
>100 thousand The number of American military wounded
$7500 The amount the U.S. Army paid to two children whose mother was killed inside a taxi that ran a checkpoint. Both children were also in the taxi, and were shot and injured.Thank you to Iraq Body Count, AntiWar, and iCasualties for maintaining databases that make these and many more numbers readily available.
Popping bubble wrap generally evokes enthusiasm from people regardless of age. With Numbers, the excitement of walking, jumping, or otherwise popping bubbles is tempered by the reality of stepping on representations of victims of violence.
Numbers also presents an opportunity for participants to reflect upon the myriad impacts of war, including responses to loud or surprising sounds, such as the pops of bubble wrap. For child and adult survivors of war, loud noises can trigger intrusive memories, nightmares, hallucinations or flashbacks, sometimes resulting in exaggerated responses. As one Iraq veteran explains, "any little noise and I'd jump out of bed and run around the house with a gun." In the same way, the sound of an airplane flying overhead can cause stress for survivors of aerial bombings, while it is of no consequence to others.
is provides a visual reference point for the ongoing violence as the
total number of bubbles in the installation is approximately the same
as the total number of tons of bombs that have been dropped on Iraq and
Afghanistan to date.
On view Thursday, October 22 - Monday, October 26
Part of the Chashama Film Festival
Final Cut Lounge
679 Third Avenue (at 43rd St.)
One block from Grand Central