We know memory is convenient.  We prefer to remember the happy and the good while repressing the horrible and the cruel. We also know there is one guarantee in this life you can always count on:  There Will Always Be Bad Art.  The current “Jumpers Sculptures” pocking the heart of New York City is but the latest example of cruelty in convenience masquerading as inspired artwork.

31 sculptures, based on the artist’s body, are appearing on rooftops all over Manhattan.  Do New Yorkers remember 9/11 at all?  Have we forgotten how people leapt to their deaths to escape the heat and the flames?

Who approved this atrocity of an abstraction of the worst terrorist act in the history of our nation and how soon can they be fired before the sculptures are removed from our blighted sight?

This self-aggrandizement posing as art is insulting and should be removed for the criminal semiotic they re-render in the hearts and subconscious minds of Americans everywhere.

AND PUT ON SOME PANTS!

Lest we forget the historical record of people falling from buildings in New York City, here are some wretched and graphic reminders of just what we lost on 9/11 — and why we must never allow the dead to be mocked with modern sculptures lingering from rooftops:

The first attempt at mocking the World Trade Center Jumpers was found several years ago in New York City in this sculpture of a woman landing on her head.

That monstrosity was quickly removed from public sight, but the image lingers — along with a resounding sourness of what was and what never should have been.

Art can influence and assuage — and even be tasteless and misguided — but True Art should never propagate hate or temper an outrage that must never be forgotten.

The hardest problem with the New York City Skyline Sculptures is not that they merely mock the World Trade Center Jumpers — the viciousness is that they invoke the worst of us by demeaning the human spirit in their insipid attempt to enlighten the world by bringing back the ignorant darkness.

9 Comments

  1. Makes one wonder about the intent of the artist. Why naked men standing at the edge of buildings? It is a disturbing reminder of the sad day in our history.

  2. I think the intent of the artist is to provoke and upset — and get some name fame — there is no other honest motive because, as you so rightly describe, it’s just something tasteless posing as Art.
    The really terrible thing is the NYPD are having to deal with 911 calls about “Jumpers on Rooftops.” It’s such a sad waste of time when the police have to say, “It’s a sculpture, not a person.” Ugh.

  3. I resided in Manhattan from 1990 through 2001, and worked on the 98th flooor of Tower 2 from 1994 – 1995. I also went for weekly visits to the hospital, accessible to the public, that spanned several floors of one of the towers. And I spent many happy afternoons delivering field worker binders to the Manhattan local offices for the Census 2000 from 1997-2000.

    Yes, we should remember the tragedy of 9/11, and memorialize the loss of life, often under horrific circumstances, that occured that terrible day. However, I find these images appalling. They are designed to provoke, to horrify, and if anything, make one want to turn away and blot out the events.

    There are memorials, both modern and traditional, for other national tragedies, and while sometimes controversial (e.g. initial response to Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in D.C.), there were never visceral reactions almost of nausea, as you very accurately ascribe to that last abomination of a sculpture in the final image in your post.

    However, I think your coverage of this Manhattan Skyline Art is handled well. These sculptures are mostly gruesome and foreboding, but I appreciate your taking time in choosing to write about such difficult subject matter, as it wasn’t easy. I would’ve never been aware otherwise, as I now live in Arizona, and you bring news of far away but highly relevant things to me. Thank you.

    1. Hi Ellie —

      Thank you for the insightful and touching comment. I think 9/11 still stings a lot for those of us who lived through it all in real time — which is why I am still stumped by that mocking “artwork” atop our buildings — it makes no sense in the context of the city and its ongoing suffering. Do we really have such a shallow and temporary collective memory? It shocks me that the individual stands up to protest while the citizenry in situ remain silent.

      I again thank you for taking a moment to share your truth and to give us a glimpse into you ongoing hurt that so many others have sadly repressed.

  4. I saw the effect that the sight of falling bodies had on some people. One of my coworkers just cracked. I never saw her again. When I talked to her on the phone to find out how she was doing, she sounded like she was ready to be institutionalized. Another coworker lost her husband that day. Sept. 11 is their first daughter’s birthday. The coworker was pregnant with their second. She faded away too.

    Mockery of 9/11 victims aside, the Jumper exhibit is an insult to those struggling with suicidal ideation and the citizens, both officers and civilians, who want to intervene in the face tragedy.