Artists explore emotional response to 9/11 attacks in new exhibit

Artist Christopher Saucedo, dressed in black, stood with his hands in his pockets next to his mixed media artwork at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan.

His brother Gregory, a firefighter, died in the line of duty in the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Saucedo’s work is part of an upcoming exhibit, “Rendering the Unthinkable: Artists Respond to 9/11,” in which 13 New York City-based artists explore their reactions to the airplane attacks, in which nearly 3,000 people died.

“We thought, there needs to be another way in to remembering, and we realized that art is another way in,” Alice M. Greenwald, director of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, said on Thursday.

“It gives you that immediacy of the emotional truth of that moment, and you see through another person’s eyes and through their artistic practice, how they struggled with the very same emotions that all of us felt.”

The exhibit stands as a counterpoint to the museum’s permanent exhibitions, which tell the story of the Sept. 11 attacks and commemorate those who died with wrenchingly familiar sights as well as artifacts.

The art ranges broadly in form, from paintings and sculptures to works on paper and video.

Saucedo, for instance, pressed linen pulp on handmade paper to create “World Trade Center as a Cloud,” which comprises three panels, each 40 by 60 inches.

American painter, sculptor Eric Fischl, who lost a friend in the attacks, is displaying a bronze sculpture, “Tumbling Woman.”

The three founding members of performance art company Blue Man Group made “Exhibit 13,” a four-minute video of burnt papers, letters, business forms and personal notes that blew from the World Trade Center into the yard of their rehearsal space in Brooklyn.

Chris Wink, co-founder of the group and original Blue Man, said creating the video was a way of processing the attacks.

“We didn’t know how we could go back to our sort of comedic work given what we were feeling and what was going on,” Wink told Reuters.

Wink said the real purpose of the video was to provide people with a gentler, more reflective space that was less alarmist than what people were seeing in the news.

“It’s like each piece of paper represents a different story, a different community, a different system, a different life interrupted,” Wink said, noting that he will be taking his kids to the exhibit.

“Memorializing is very important to people directly affected, but, of course, who wasn’t affected indirectly?”

“Rendering the Unthinkable: Artists Respond to 9/11,” is the first major special exhibition for the museum. It will open to the public on Sept. 12.

(Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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