The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, seared a harrowing set of images onto the collective American consciousness. While we all remember the planes, the towers, the fire and the plume of smoke, the many responses by artists to the catastrophe have expanded our visual landscape of tragedy and remembrance. Now, as the 10th anniversary of the event approaches, most major New York museums and countless galleries and other organizations are presenting commemorative exhibitions. Herewith, a listing of some of the highlights.
• MoMA PS1 presents “September 11,” Sept. 11, 2011-Jan. 9, 2012, a show designed by curator Peter Eleey to shy away from any images of the towers, the planes or 9/11 wreckage. Instead, the exhibition includes a single work made in direct response to 9/11 -- by Ellsworth Kelly -- and another 70 works by 41 artists largely made prior to the event, by artists including Diane Arbus, John Chamberlain, Christo, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Thomas Hirschhorn, Barbara Kruger, Yoko Onoand John Lennon, Rosemarie Trockel and James Turrell.
• International Center of Photography mounts “Remembering 9/11,” Sept. 9, 2011-Jan. 8, 2012, a show that focuses on first responders to the tragedy, via a video installation by Leslie McCleave and Elena del Rivero, an installation by Francesc Torres, photography by Eugene Richards and photographs and proof sheets by Gregg Brown. The show is organized in collaboration with the National September 11 Memorial Museum.
• Metropolitan Museum of Art presents artist and quilter Faith Ringgold’s 9/11 Peace Story Quilt, Aug. 30, 2011-Jan. 22, 2012. Made in collaboration with New York City students, the quilt consists of three 72 x 50 in. panels, each made up of 12 smaller squares, all decorated on the theme of "peace." On Sept. 11, 2011, the Met plans a series of special events, including a talk with Ringgold at 2 pm and a performance in the Temple of Dendur by the Wordless Music Orchestra, called “Remembering September 11.”
• Guggenheim Museum screens Ten Years of Terror, a film by Brad Evans and Simon Critchley featuring reflections on violence by Noam Chomsky, Saskia Sassen, Michael Hardt and others. The screenings, held at 11 am on Sept. 9, 12 and 13, 2011, are free after museum admission, which is $18. The directors will be on hand for questions after all three screenings.
• New Museum turns over its lobby space to Elena del Rivero for her sculpture [Swi:t] Home: A CHANT, Sept. 7-26, 2011, constructed from papers and debris that flew into the window of her studio on Cedar Street, across from the World Trade Center, after the attacks. Over a five-year stretch, the artist stitched 3,136 papers onto sheets of cotton-mesh fabric, which hang from the museum ceiling. A conversation between del Rivero and fellow New York artist Andrea Blum on the subject of art-making in the city after Sept. 11 is scheduled for Sept. 15.
• American Folk Art Museum displays the 9/11 National Tribute Quilt, started two days after the September 11th attacks by the four women who make up the Steel Quilters group of the U.S. Steel Corporation, and eventually incorporating 3,466 squares of fabric, each bearing the name of someone who died that day. The 8 x 30 ft. quilt depicts New York City’s skyline with two golden twin towers at the center.
• Lower Manhattan Cultural Council presents Where Does the Dust Itself Collect? Sept. 8-Oct. 9, 2011, a work from 2004 by the Chinese-born artist Xu Bing. The poetic installation, which was first installed in Wales in 2004 and makes its U.S. debut here, covers the floor with dust collected from the WTC site and traces into it the Zen Buddhist phrase, “As there is nothing from the first, where does the dust itself collect?” Xu is slated to discuss the work at the Museum of Chinese in America on Sept. 13.
RACHEL CORBETT is news editor of Artnet Magazine.