Tuesday, June 08, 2004

A Memorial, But For Whom?

An article in the most recent Policy Review discusses the winning plan for what is to replace the World Trade Center buildings on the site known now as Ground Zero. I'm not terribly interested in this, really, since New York is a place I've never visited and have no plans to visit and it seems a bit silly to invest time and effort to form a reasoned opinion on something that won't affect me, nor does it interest me.

But this article makes it quite clear that not only is the design a travesty, but the architect himself is, well, a fruitcake.

The whole thing seems to have been a farce. The selection process,
Yet, belying repeated assurances about the "open" and "democratic" character of the process of deliberations on the future of Ground Zero, New York Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose to ignore the LMDC [Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the body specifically created to oversee the reconstruction of downtown Manhattan in the aftermath of 9-11] recommendation and go with the Libeskind design anyway.
the design
...the famous "Wedge of Light" where, Libeskind has promised, "Each year on September 11th between the hours of 8:46 am, when the first airplane hit, and 10:28 am, when the second tower collapsed, the sun will shine without shadow." Architect Eli Attia has long since demonstrated that the "Wedge" was a hoax and that, supposing the sun shines at all between the appointed times, the area demarcated in Libeskind's original model will be increasingly covered in shadow.
and the man himself. Here he is talking about a previous design for the Jewish History Museum in Berlin.
Calling the project "Between the Lines," as if it were an independent artwork requiring a title, Libeskind claimed to have sensed in the area of the Berlin building site "an invisible matrix . . . of relationships, which I discovered not only among German and Jewish figures, but also between the municipal history of Berlin and the history of Jews in Germany and in Berlin. I recognized that certain people, in particular certain scientists, composers, artists, and poets, were the links between Jewish tradition and German culture. I found these connections and I plotted an irrational matrix in the form of a system of right-angled triangles, which would yield reference to the emblematics of a compressed and distorted star: the yellow star that was so frequently worn on this very site."

And the final conclusion of the article is that
the basic conception of Libeskind's World Trade Center "master plan" addresses a similar message to New Yorkers and Americans, implying that they were themselves responsible for the fate that befell them on September 11, 2001 and that they must atone for the wrongs which elicited the catastrophe. It is a tribute to America's enemies and an insult to the memory of those who were killed in the attacks.

I'm not a New Yorker, and I don't really have much invested in this, but c'mon guys. Surely you can do better than this?