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Another way of looking at the problems. Sept 11th Art Exhibits

Posted By: Frank Shifreen on August 6, 2002
I am a doctoral student in the TC dep't of Art and Art Education. I am a teacher, artist and curator of thematic art exhibitions, both large and small. Since Sept 11th I have organized a series of art exhibitions. The First exhibition was called "From the Ashes" and opened on October 8th , 2001, at Cuando, a facility on the Lower East Side, Manhattan . It had five floors of Art, performance ,sculpture and music, and lasted for a month. The most recent incarnation is "Ground Zero" at the Detroit Museum of New Art ( Jul 13th to Aug 24, www.detroitmona.com) . I am not just blowing my own horn, but believe that art offers another way to re-conceptualize the trauma and quandary of events precipitated by 9/11. there are other institutions and artists doing similar works.

In our catalog I wrote, "the events of Sept.11th were an overwhelming visual experience and demand a visual response.... In the midst of destruction and chaos , art stands witness to the creative soul." These words were quoted in the LA Times 10/11/01 and cover of Magazine Art Education, March 2002.

I quote from Picture Theory, by WJT Mitchell ( U of Chicago Press 1994) "The difference between images and language is the are not merely formal matters. they are in practice linked to things like the difference between "speaking" self and "seen" other; between telling and showing; between "hearsay" and "eyewitness" testimony' between words( heard, quoted, inscribed) and objects or actions ((seen, depicted, described); between sensory channels, traditions and representations and modes of experience "The story that has emerged is modeled , almost scene by scene, on a disaster movie. There is the clearly witnessed long shot of the attack, the confusion below, people Fleeing toward the camera. Archetypal heroes ( Mayor Giuliani, the firemen) emerged, as well as a foreign villain,.(Osama Bin laden)/ the scene was set for act. The battle between good and evil. An apocalyptic yet redemptive process. How this cultural narrative has been chosen is worth examining " Toronto Globe and mail 9.22.01

Art can create a space which breaks the spell of the soap opera mythology. In this case I am talking about the narrative by the Bush Administration that has created a story that has become the gospel of September 11th. We need more topical art exhibitions, theater, dance, and poetry because the beauty of art also counters the repression of spirit in our society. Art is demonstrative, empowering and illuminating.

Thank You, Frank Shifreen
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 Another way of looking at the problems. Sept 11th Art Exhibits by Frank Shifreen on August 6, 2002
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