Monday, May 20, 2002

I meant to write about this right after we got back from Richmond, but it just slipped my mind for one reason or another. One of the things we did in Richmond was go to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. One of the exhibits with which I spent a lot of time was an installation by Richard Roth, called "Grief." There is a shorter, on-line version that should give you an idea of what it was basically like. And also, here is an a short (but not very critical) article about the exhibit.

There are 237 images in the exhibit, covering 4 walls and a center display area, all (allegedly) clipped indiscriminately from print media. At first, I was overwhelmed by the images, felt like sobbing, didn't want to look at any more, etc. But I think because there are so many, you get kind of numbed to the emotions depicted. After I was numbed up a bit, I started really reading the captions on the photos and not looking at the images at all. Half way around the room, it suddenly occured to me that there were a *lot* of photos of Israelis mourning their dead, but I couldn't remember seeing any Palestinian grief photos.

So, I stopped, and went back to the door and started counting, Israeli photos on one hand, Palestinian on the other. I included the photos from Rabin's funeral in the Israeli count. Okay, I have no proof that Richard Roth didn't manipulate the images. Publicity statements seem to imply that he just cut out all the photos of crying people he could find without discrimination. If that is indeed true, here is the evidence that we are so underrepresenting Palestinian suffering in our newspapers--particularly the New York Times, since that's where these photos came from. There were 28 images of Israeli families mourning lost members, but only 6 of Palestinian mourners (actually, those numbers may not be quite right, it's been a month since I counted, and for some reason, I think the Israeli count might be higher).

The message is--you can kill 10 Palestinians for every 1 Israeli, and Americans will think that is okay, because they will only see a picture of 1 Palestinian dead, not 10. Americans think the numbers are even, or that Palestinians kill a lot more Israelis than vice versa. And that's just not true. This completely wasn't the point of Roth's installation, but that's what people should be looking at.

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