why have artists not responded to 9/11 yet?
March 4, 2002 9:52 PM   Subscribe

why have artists not responded to 9/11 yet? duh. art isn't made in a day. some interesting analogies between 9/11 and past historical examples, coupla which i didn't even know. (nytimes link)
posted by patricking (13 comments total)
My sister's roommate is working on a 9/11 art project. I think that unlike journalists, artists really need to let an idea ferment for a while before they're prepared to show the world what they've been thinking of. There's been plenty of 9/11 art out here [Seattle] it seems.
posted by jessamyn at 11:35 PM on March 4, 2002

I'd really like to hear evanizer's opinion on this; if he's reading.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:55 AM on March 5, 2002

they have... at the Adelaide Festival of Arts (that's Adelaide, Australia - a world recognised arts festival) there is an extraordinary response and visualization of the attack on the towers by Gordon Bennett called "Notes to Basquiat: 911" Bennett is a Queenslander with a growing international reputation. An earlier solo exhibition "Notes to Basquiat" was held at the Grammercy Internatioanal Contemporary Art Fair, NY - but he has held numerous solo exhibitions.
This series of 8 large paintings (acrylic on linen) are difficult,ambiguous, threatening, disquieting. The crown icon used by Basquiat in his paintings is here re-used as are recognisable simplified visions of the Tower(s) of the plane(s) of Islamic text swirling across the skyline like fire ("in the name of Allah, the Benificent, the Merciful" - said (i believe), by Muslims before doing a good deed).
The paintings are a deeply thought out response to a shoking event which does not offer any trite answers. The link to the gallery site sadly is not updated to include any images of this extraordinary artist's maybe not so palatable response to 9/11
Some inkling of his work
posted by dodialog at 2:44 AM on March 5, 2002

oh, here's a tiny taste of a tiny bit of one of Gordon Bennett's 911 paintings
posted by dodialog at 2:51 AM on March 5, 2002

We have a crater in downtown Manhattan. What larger work of art can any artist master which drives the point home greater than the truth?

"On the surface, this is a little silly..."

Just on the surface? The question posed by Midgette via Lebrecht is something I would only expect from someone who has been blind, deaf and hiding in a cave the past six months. I've seen Nine Eleven art everywhere. Although it's not necessarily "respectable" art, whatever that is.

I thought it was simultaneously heartwarming and a little disturbing that many of the commercially acceptable artists (although I hesistate to use that word with Mariah Carey or Enrique Iglesias) just dug into the repertoire they already had and started pushing music or other stuff they'd already done or had been working on and used that to both comfort those who were in pain and prosletyze their own living. I cite the "America: A Tribute To Heroes" and the "Concert For New York City," both of which attempted to respond artistically within a month of Nine Eleven.

Perhaps refined connoisseurs of artistic expression would find Sting's "Fragile" or Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" an inappropriate response to Nine Eleven. Yet in almost the same breath Midgette calls upon Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" as more acceptable? I don't see the difference between delving into the repertoire of a living musician or a dead playright. Yes, Miller used the Salem Witch Trials as reactionary to the House Unamerican Activities Committee. We don't need to use a past historical event to refer in metaphor to Nine Eleven. The truth is enough. Miller used the past to speak to the present. Is that really necessary today?

Within days of the event, many editorial cartoonists responded with both powerful artistic renderings of the event and some rather campy trite crap that probably would have best not been penned. Slate still has some of them available for download. I'd have to say this one is my favorite, but YMMV. It was interesting how many different artists each came up with similar images simultaneously, allegedly without communicating to one another. Like Lady Liberty mourning as the towers fell, or how many artists immediately compared Nine Eleven to Pearl Harbor. Some quite remarkable, but predictable, imagery.

The New York police officer who moonlights as an opera singer. I forget his name. He has probably known how to sing the Star Spangled Banner since he was a child. He probably never thought he'd be called upon to sing in order to inspire a nation. They asked him to sing again during the Olympics Opening Ceremony just last month. I still get goosebumps. I'd call that art. And Sarah Hughes' tribute to those who died would also qualify. Being a New Yorker, I imagine she came up with that routine within days or weeks of Nine Eleven. Not because she thought she could win a medal with it. She performed it at the Olympics after she already won the gold. She just felt the need to express her emotion about the event, and she did so with a grace and honesty that irrevocably redeemed figure skating in my eyes. Is it a sport? That's for others to argue. I now respect it soberly as a powerful artform.

On the Internet, there's been a lot of artistic responses to that dark day. Black Day is a photographer's artistic response which I found to be one of the more memorable, serious artistic responses to the event. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some guy put a picture of himself on the WTC with a picture of an airplane superimposed over the background. This caused a little upheaval. Laughs for some. Defiant bewilderment in others, but one would have to admit this was technically a work of art. Tasteless and lacking quality, yes, but art nonetheless.

I really don't understand the point of Anne Midgette's article. Art in response to Nine Eleven is everywhere. One only needs to know where to look. Perhaps her point is that certain places in the world, certain groups of people, who are supposed to be responsible for being ahead of the curve in regards to art, these esteemed and respected establishments and individuals, who may not be commercially successful but are always critically acclaimed by people like Norman Lebrecht or Anne Midgette, have dropped the ball.

How could such respected shrines of art be outdone by an episode of The West Wing? Or the generous news reports that told us the lives of those lost and why we should mourn them, which again though tasteless and self-serving were also art (and sometimes good art)? How indeed.

But then, my definition of art is obviously not the same as Ms. Midgette. Perhaps for her, only certain people should be allowed the term "artiste." I think she should be a little more open-minded. We don't need a new Picasso to vaguely allude to Nine Eleven to know the heart of mankind.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:06 AM on March 5, 2002

"why have artists not responded to 9/11 yet?"

whomever asked that hasn't yet stepped into a comic book shop. they should. it might make them less ignorant.
posted by jcterminal at 4:33 AM on March 5, 2002

Less than two months after that fateful day, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts had a massive photography exhibit of the attacks. It was disgusting. Along with images of the burning buildings, the dust, the smoke, and the mayhem, were a bunch of poorly posed, hyper-stylized images of roomates and neighbors of the photographers pretending to look bewildered and scared while sitting on their Brooklyn rooftops, clearly shot days, or maybe even weeks after the events. Some of them were even in costume and makeup, complete with white powder in their hair and tears in their shoes. Surrounding the pictures were pieces of tinfoil, pebbles, and trite half-sense scrawled in what was supposed to look like blood. Appalling.

Sorry, that was supposed be about how art has attempted to examine 9/11, although in retrospect, I'd have a hard time calling Tisch's 'Tribute' to that awful day 'art'.
posted by saladin at 5:25 AM on March 5, 2002

Good point, Jcterminal. I forgot about that.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:35 AM on March 5, 2002

Brute is best know for his KMFDM album art, but make sure to check out the "War Art" section for his response to the attacks of September 11.
posted by Stuart_R at 6:22 AM on March 5, 2002

There has been a proliferation of art since 9/11. Some better than others, but to say that artists are not responding is simply ignorant.
posted by Benway at 6:40 AM on March 5, 2002

Exit Art have the Reactions show in New York City...
posted by liam at 6:51 AM on March 5, 2002

AIGA maintains an archive of Visual Responses to September 11 in their Design Forum.

Also, Communication Arts presented an exhibition of Visual Responses at Seybold 2002 in New York.
posted by jeffhoward at 8:20 AM on March 5, 2002

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