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9/11 memorial at CEPA Gallery


The beautiful and poignant artwork CEPA commissioned for the one-year anniversary of 9/11 has been reprised for the 10-year anniversary, and is installed in the atrium of the Market Arcade Building. It was created for the three-story, sky-lighted atrium space by artist Tatana Kellner and shows there to wonderful and moving effect.

The work consists of 46 16-foot-long banners of sheer fabric silkscreened with names and photos of the nearly 3,000 men and women who died in the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center buildings, the attack on the Pentagon, and the crash of the plane in Pennsylvania. The images and brief stories on each of the victims were originally published in the New York Times in a memorable series called Portraits in Grief. In some cases there are names without images, if photos of the victims were unavailable. And in most cases there are caption headings from the stories the Times wrote about each of the men and women.

The special excellence of this work is in its quiet, almost understated, memorializing of the tragic event. Was man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen. What one cannot speak of, about that one must be silent.

Though the event itself inspired enormous rhetorical excess. The term “hero” was universally applied. Partly for consolatory reasons, but mostly, as we can discern so much more clearly 10 years later, for political reasons. And the cranking up of the rhetoric allowed for all kinds of politically motivated mischief, like the leaping into two stupid and costly foreign wars, and a bunch of domestic ones (with international ramifications), like against Muslims in general, and against immigrants in general. Each one of these a tragedy dwarfing the original tragedy.

The memorial work shows the victims of 9/11 not as heroes but as something bigger and better, real people. The caption headlines that serve as epitaphs reveal how ordinary and everyday these people were. (Just like you and me, with everyday cares and concerns, hopes and dreams.) And glimpses of genuine heroism, genuine self-sacrifice, in their final moments and in their whole lives.

A few of the names and headlines, more or less at random:

David S. Lee, “Expectant Father”; Angel Pabou, “Defying Stereotypes”; Steve Pollicino, “Living in the Moment”; Deepa K. Pakkala, “Determined to Do It All”; Charlie Murphy “‘Absurdly Generous’”; Firefighter Gerard Barbara, “A Dad and Yankees Lover”; Police Officer Brian McDonell, “A Cop’s Cop.”

Lukasz Milewski, “His First Job in America”; Susan M. Getzendanner, “Business and Buddhism”; Darya Lin, “Stayed Behind to Help”; David Agnes, “‘Just a Good Man’”; Clement Fumando, “Mr. Wonderful”; Look-alikes Lisa Egan and Samantha Egan, both with the same headline, “Sisters, Always Together.”

Edgar H. Emery, Jr. “A Runner for All Seasons”; Firefighter Neal Leavy, “A Firefighting Heritage”; L. Russell Keene, III, “‘I Know Just Where He Is’”; Jeffrey P. Hardy, “Musician Turned Chef”; Thomas A. Hobbes, “The Things They Planned”; Richard Stewart, “Looking for Meaning”; Joseph E. Maloney, “We Hardly Knew Ye.”

And more and more. Some 3,000. The work will remain on display until November 1. See it from the ground floor, but then climb up to the second or third floor walkways for different views.

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