September 30, 2005
NYC Draws the Line on The Drawing Center
From the article, Is Culture Gone at Ground Zero? by Robin Pogrebin on the New York Times, it is clear that the erosion of civil rights goes hand-in-hand with the loss of cultural freedom and artistic expression. Detailed in the article is the demise of The Drawing Center and the Freedom Museum from the development plans of the Ground Zero site in downtown Manhattan.
It is of particular interest here as Ms. Catherine de Zegher, director of the Drawing Center, was in Saigon only a few short months earlier (see earlier post), speaking to our arts community of the importance of drawing and challenging the artists to reconsider drawing not only as a part of a process, but itself as a form that is ripe for exploration and innovation. Drawing with thread, drawing from shadows cast by objects, drawing with sound.
The articles reads, the "Drawing Center, was driven from the site by victims' families and New York newspaper accounts asserting that some of the center's exhibitions had been "anti-American." ...The Daily News reported that the Drawing Center had once displayed a work obliquely linking President Bush to Osama bin Laden and another showing a hooded victim of American abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. In an editorial that day, the paper demanded, "Show these people the door."
The development of the WTC site is clearly moving from the centerpiece of the democratic tradition, the Agora, a public forum where citizens freely speak and exchange ideas. This weeks removal of the Freedom Museum to the list of cultural institutions which sought to find a home in the WTC development is unambiguous.
You know the story. Drown your tears in a tub of Hagan Daaz.
Artists out, big business in. Why not replicate Roppongi Hills where at least one floor of some towering shopping megaplex might house an arts space as does the Mori Building with the Mori Arts Museum. If they plan to build a shopping center, they should at least be honest and forthcoming about it. The fictional Wall Street character Gordon Gecko, who infamously said, "Greed is Good" would have found this solution perfect. Please don't hide under vapid claims of the artwork being insensitive when the real agenda is clear. We can now question who the real cowards are. But then again, the Japanese didn't build a shopping complex on the original Ground Zero at Hiroshima. They instead chose the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
Elsewhere in today's NYT is an article that is more telling. As Ground Zero Plans Shift, Focus Turns to Retail Space.
A day after evicting the International Freedom Center museum from the memorial area at ground zero for being too controversial, officials described a plan yesterday for a half-million square feet of retail space elsewhere on the World Trade Center site.
I hate to be bitter, but perhaps this is what the families of the victims deserve. While forcing arts and cultural instituations out, they get in lieu a big ass shopping mall in which to memorialize their lost ones. Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.
Meanwhile, in Saigon, the development of the Saigon Biennale goes through its own internal and public challenges. I continue to hope for a better future in both the Drawing Center and the SB. At this point, they're going to need all the hope they can get. I think I'm going to be sick.
New York Times. Is Culture Gone at Ground Zero?
Website: The Drawing Center
New York Times. As Ground Zero Plans Shift, Focus Turns to Retail Space
The Washington Post. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, The Original Ground Zero
Zenzibar. The First Ground Zero
Posted by rst at September 30, 2005 10:31 AM
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