07 May 2008

Richard Serra on the Effects of Witnessing the 9/11 Attacks in NYC

In The New York Times today there is a story on the opening in Paris of a solo exhibition of new and old work by sculptor Richard Serra. This passage caught my eye:

Mr. Serra, who lives in TriBeCa, was there on Sept. 11, 2001, and in its aftermath. He was horrified by his own voyeurism, he said, as he and others watched people in the burning towers throw themselves to their deaths, hand in hand.

“People were silent, other people jumped, and people on the ground moaned in unison, like a Greek chorus,” he said.

It had a great impact on him, he said, talking of the random quickness of life, a new desire to be considerate. “You need to keep your wits about you, and you have to acknowledge everyone around you,” he said. “Before, maybe I didn’t. But we’re all here and here together. It made me a stronger person. But also I think a little more open and generous one.”

If only Serra were the median American - not just in terms of talent and creativity, but in terms too of the ability to respond with openness and generosity in the face of horrifying adversity. Instead we get fear and anxiety and in politics, of course, those who are completely willing to exploit that fear and anxiety.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Aric Mayer said...

I was having dinner a few months ago with some friends who also live in New York City. We were talking about how friendly the city is, how polite people are, how easy it is to get around and how much people will help you when you need it.

Then we realized that this had all transpired because of 9/11. We had all watched the towers come down, just like Serra, and had lived with the aftermath. And it made the whole city more human. It put a mortal face on each of us. Suddenly the person next to you was precious and not just in the way.

07 May, 2008 01:04  
Blogger Paul said...

Aric,
This may be true on a local level in NYC, but I would have to say that as a nation at large - we have become more fearful as well as divided in both racial and cultural terms. The stereotypes and the generalizations are still there. We have taken a national tragedy and turned around and aggressively sought retaliation, blindly guided by false political claims and misconceptions. It is time that this country open its eyes and stop perpetuating centuries of endless violence on fellow men.

12 May, 2008 00:45  

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