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In 1915, the artist Paul Klee said, "The more horrifying this world becomes (as it is these days) the more art becomes abstract; while a world at peace produces realistic art." His words seem prophetic today, and he might be right. In these photos – photos of destruction and death – there is also beauty in an abstract sense. The tragedy of 9/11, no matter one's political orientation, brought people together – nations, states, cities and New Yorkers helping New Yorkers – in short, humans helping other humans. For weeks after, people acted towards total strangers as if they’ve known each other for years. In this there was beauty. A body part separated from its corpus becomes a grotesque object of abstraction. Separated from the corporeal, and abstracted by its placement in the world, it becomes a reminder of something we never see – this is what bombs produce. Horror and shock of this scene becomes a reflection on our own humanity, and of our vulnerabilities. The abstract scenes of papers, shoes and people out of place – the chaos of the moment – yet viewed in the safety of a gallery room is the same as the strange inner space of calmness one experiences in confusing and out of control moments. Out of the confusion and chaos came a calmness and concern for others, mostly unseen in the day-to-day life of New York City. My world was abstracted in the moments of chaos that I photographed before and after the towers collapsed. The familiar – my downtown, my neighborhood, and the streets on which I ride my bike – became the unfamiliar, and these photos reflect the realism of the phenomenological experience, the abstractness of memory and remembrance, during and immediately after the towers of the World Trade Center fell.
The Violent Unfolding of a New Reality Events of 9/11, and the collapse of the WTC
My Personal Experience on September 11, 2001 –Eric O’Connell
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