Artwork Details

  • Artist Basma Al Sharif
  • Title We Began By Measuring Distance
  • Date 2009
  • Medium Single-channel video
  • Credit Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation; co-produced by Sharjah Art Foundation and Ramattan News Agency & Media Services
We Began By Measuring Distance Image


The work began as hours of unrelated footage and a frustration with history, facts and the impossibility to reconcile tragedy with my own experience of a lifetime of witnessing tragedy from a physical distance to Palestine.

The video consists of long still frames, text, language, and sound woven together to unfold the narrative of an anonymous group who fill their time by measuring distance.

The measurements begin innocently as physical measurements (inches, shapes, degrees, etc) and then transition into political ones (between cities, iconic dates, and upheavals).

The video explores the different ways images and sounds communicate a narrative, a history, an event, or simply: a feeling. We Began By Measuring Distance reveals an ultimate disenchantment with facts when the visual fails to communicate the tragic.