News / Arts & Entertainment

New York Museum's 9/11 Exhibit Features Pre-Attack Art

One of the pieces in the exhibit called 'September 11' at the Museum of Modern Art's Queens outpost, PS1, in New York, September 2011.
One of the pieces in the exhibit called 'September 11' at the Museum of Modern Art's Queens outpost, PS1, in New York, September 2011.
Behnam Nateghi

The September 11 terror attacks may have changed our view, even of objects created before 9/11/2001. A new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art’s branch in New York’s Long Island City explores this idea. The exhibit features pieces made years before the attacks, which  seen in a new context, find different meanings and responses.



Those who remember New York on the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks are familiar with scenes like this - impromptu memorials to loved ones. The shrine on this street corner, however, is an art installation from 1997 by Swiss born artist Thomas Hirschhorn, called "Mondrian Altar."

"Mondrian Altar" is part of an exhibit called "September 11" at the Museum of Modern Art’s Queens outpost, PS1. But while the exhibit opened on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, most of the pieces in it were created before the attacks took place.

Altered perception

On the morning of September 11, 2001, in this very space at PS1, Canadian artist Janet Cardiff had mounted her experimental installation "The Forty Part Motet" using 40 speakers - each representing a member of a choir, singing a mournful piece of medieval English church music.

Now, 10 years later, PS1 has re-installed the piece as part of its effort to show the effect of the attack on our perceptions - even of things that came before it.  

For example, in this landscape painted 15 years before 2001, we can’t avoid seeing the shadow of the Twin Towers.

Changing everything

This documentary by artist Jem Cohen is about a victory parade that celebrated the return of American troops after the 1991 Gulf War. But the film of that victory parade 10 years before 9/11 reminds the viewer of the September 11 attacks.

"What we saw in 1991 was a reaction of extreme nationalism, pride and patriotism," said Cohen. "In 2001, those events reshaped the piece. It indicated that sometimes we made historical documents that we don’t control."

The only piece directly pointing to 9/11 is a collage by American artist Ellsworth Kelly. The show's creator, PS1 curator Peter Eleey, said the approach in this simple collage is what he wanted to extend to the entire show.

"I was interested how particularly Kelly’s approach allows us to look differently at this location, which for us was so sort of marred by the violence that occurred there," said Eleey. "And I began to think about how an exhibition could offer something similar by looking differently, that we could in a sense create our own meaning, if I could expand the context within which we consider 9/11."

With this approach, the PS1 exhibit revives, renews and enlivens art pieces of the recent past - art that had become either too familiar and commonplace - or had been forgotten, like this crushed car from 1982 by sculptor John Chamberlain, which now stands for the violence of that day.

Looming shadows

Another piece from 1980, by American artist Sarah Charlesworth, stands for the heart-wrenching scenes that were repeated 20 years after it was made.

"There were seven blowups like this, and they were all taken from newspaper photos of people jumping, obviously the association that people are going to have about that day. I had to consider whether it altered the meaning of the work too much," said Charlesworth.

Newspaper photos also are the subject of another installation that covers the walls of a large hall.  

"This is the work by a Dutch artist named Willem De Rooji. It's an archive of images he cut out of newspapers beginning early in 2000,  continuing through mid-2002," said Eleey.

Moving exhibit

This otherwise pleasant shot of a sunny day on a plane takes on an ominous meaning and identity, when we consider the crash of planes full of fuel and people into the tall buildings.

Presiding over the central hall of the exhibition is a piece by New York sculptor George Segal, who died a year before 9/11. Segal’s woman looks down at a grey powder which covers the entire floor.

"It’s in fact pulverized passenger jet engine by the British artist Roger Hiorns, which he sent to an industrial company that ground it into a very fine powder - mostly aluminum and steel," said Eleey.

The exhibit continues at PS1 through January 9 of next year.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."