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By David Finkelstein | January 6, 2004

This “poetry video” creates a visual counterpart to Fern Capella’s performance of her impassioned poem, in which she criticizes the US government’s use of war as a response to the 9/11 attacks. The images are a montage of footage and stills culled largely from television news and commercials, edited to directly illustrate the text, and occasionally mixed with images of the performer.

I sympathized immediately and wholeheartedly with the politics of this piece. “We don’t want war. Not your f*****g war. Ego and oil are not worth dying for.” Capella spells it all out, and her ideas are terrific. I agree that the Bush administration is shamelessly exploiting 9/11 to advance an agenda of world domination and to crack down on dissent of all kinds at home. Her performance is passionate and heartfelt.

However, I’d have to say that her poetry doesn’t have much in the way of subtlety, depth, or sophistication. Other than raw anger and outrage, it doesn’t go deeply into the complexities and contradictions of American complacency, Middle Eastern anger, and the larger ironies of trying to save democracy and stop terrorism by creating a repressive, terrorist American state. Her insights never go deeper than the simple level of realizing that the media’s version of reality is a convenient lie, which furthers a corporate agenda.

Lind’s images illustrate both the content and rhythm of the performance. One might say that a piece like this, which strives to make as direct and powerful a political statement as possible, doesn’t need a lot of fancy, subtle visual devices, but, then again, because the text is so one-dimensional in its exploration of an extremely complicated and multi-layered situation, the images also seemed drained of power by the simplicity of their rhetoric, rather than strengthened by it. However, Lind’s choice of using only images from television was a strong one because it emphasized the way that our perception of 9/11 is so heavily shaped and limited by the corporate stranglehold on the national discourse.

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