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September 11, 2012


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Jeremy M. Barker

Isaac, I think you bring up a good point about the fact that transforming the event is distasteful. That to my mind is the reason we don't have meaningful art about 9/11 yet. The process of transforming the real through art is always--in my experience--sort of distasteful. Art usually succeeds when there's sufficient distance. In order to transform something through art, you sort of have to forget the thing itself and all its representations to take over. It's a fascinating and complex process and I think it applies to almost any artistic project that draws consciously from experience. That's not to say that one can never make something good from close proximity to an event, it's just my own general sense of the challenge and the reason such works so often fail.

Jeremy M. Barker

It's like the old Italian proverb: "tradurre e tradire." Translation is treason. And art is a translation of the real.


I think one of the only pieces of 9/11 art that I've seen that was a success is the book "The Submission" by Amy Waldman. Maybe because she skirts around the actual day by starting her book two years later and focusing on the design of the memorial. But I think the book beautifully captures the fear, anger and lingering effects of that day more than any other film, book or song about 9/11.

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