Last week I took a trip up to NYC to see Ground Zero. I’d been wanting to make the trip for some time. And, after working on Dichotomy since September, I felt it was important to take the trip. They’ve recently put up a platform, about two blocks away from the site. You have to get [free] tickets at the South Street Seaport kiosk, about 7 blocks to the East.
Many have mixed emotions about The Platform. Some see it as just another stop on a tourist’s itinerary and are concerned about the carnival atmosphere at the site. Even though I’m sure it exists I didn’t see any evidence of that attitude.
While in the city, I met with a friend who is involved with many art and culture issues. He told me that a panel he was helping to organize on 9/11 was just cancelled due to lack of interest, not only by the public but by the panel members! The event affected all of us in a major way as a nation (that is, feeling a part because we are all Americans) and in individual ways, whether we experienced 9/11 directly, knew people who did, or simply witnessed it on TV. After four months, there seems to be a whole range of feelings now from “let’s move on” to “I’ve hardly begun to process this.”
As you look at the site now, the viewer’s experience is, in a way, too abstract. Ground Zero is about 2 blocks from the platform and it now looks more like a construction site. The initial visual shock is missing for most of us. And for most who haven’t spent a lot of time in the city, it’s hard to remember where the WTC would be in one’s field of view as you walk down the streets.
Yet many are drawn here because they want it to be more concrete and less abstract. It’s important to them. I overheard a woman here in DC say she was taking her children to see the site so they would think a little about the realities of what happened. To a some teenagers who have grown up with the mayhem and murder on TV, these things can be pretty abstract and unbelievable.
I was there at about 5:15 pm. The sun had set, yet the sky was still blue in the west, in the direction we were looking. It was cold and windy. I felt the beauty of living with the realities of what we went through. And, I’m glad I went. Yes, of course, there were some who took snapshots but documenting this place and our contact with it is as important as documenting any family event. I’ve created documentation of my own at The Platform (Quicktime 2.3 MB).
* * *
Update: I just found out the Dichotomy is a Finalist in the Art/Culture category at the SXSW Festival!