2002 WTC Shrines

Summer 2002

These are pieces I put up after September 11th. Over the winter, in the studio, I built shrines on life-sized photographs of the bases of light poles. I photographed those, printed them on sticker paper, then painted over them to make them look real. When the weather got warmer, starting at Ground Zero, following sight lines of the World Trade Center drawn in a star pattern on my map, I installed them on light poles.

At the time I was thinking a lot about art objects’ possible usefulness in the real world. For me paintings have often functioned as secular shrines—as visual instigators to reverie. The week before September 11th I was up in the Bronx at a housing project photographing the shrine neighbors left at the doorstep of a murdered 9 year old girl (balloons, flowers, stuffed animals, family photos). I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly, it was just my way of sketching. Then the planes hit and the city parks filled with thousands of votive offerings. Again, I went to photograph them, not knowing what I actually wanted, just to see what might come out of it. I use a large format camera, the old style with the hood and long bellows. Every time I put the hood on and focussed the ground glass, I got an unmistakably eerie feeling from all those candles—I really felt the impact of all those extinguished souls.

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