March 01, 2005

Ground Zero

In the latest NYRB Martin Filler asks why the Ground Zero design is so bad. It's so bad because — like virtually all the designs I've seen — it seems to be turning into a monument to the living, a monument to a thrusting spirit of American self-regard, rather than a reminder, a memento mori, or a monument to the dead. The dead seem to have no place in the design as conceived, unlike (say) the Vietnam wall in DC, where the dead are invoked simply and are so alive because of it (it's a moving place, even for a hardened cynic like me). Ground Zero's not going to be a place for quiet contemplation, sad memories, or reflection — it's a place almost explicitly designed to block these out.

A few hours after the towers went down I remember thinking they should leave the place as an urban park with some of the tall twisted beams that were still standing then left up as a reminder; keep the site as an obvious absence. When I lived in London, few Blitz memorials were more affecting (and simple) than the bombed-out church near St Pauls deliberately left unrepaired — every time you walked past it you saw the damage, you thought about the reality of bombing, and you wondered about the victims. You engaged with the tragedy, you didn't obliterate it.

(I have my own memories of looking out up towards Midtown from the 87th floor office in the North Tower that I occasionally used when in New York in the mid-to-late 1990's).


Post a Comment

<< Home

www Tight Sainthood