City of Refuge is artist Krzysztof Wodiczko’s ambitious proposal to create a literal memorial for the 9/11 attacks, fusing politics and passion and showing a unique commitment to resistance.
City of Refuge: A 9/11 Memorial is a fascinating insight into Krzysztof Wodiczko’s practice, the political and personal concepts pushing his project forward, and the idea of social responsibility infused in his work. It is a proposal parallel to the World Trade Center Memorial but with the aim of provoking a more active and critical commemoration of the September 11 terrorist attacks, understood in their historical and political context, and in the light of their domestic and international fallout.
Drawing his main argument from the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, Wodiczko imagines a memorial that is at once utopian and continuous with the concrete realities of the post-9/11 climate of fear permeating the Western world. It is a passionate attempt at readdressing the narratives of closure, hostility and terror, through a memorial that encourages open, critical and democratic discourse. The resulting City of Refuge is a memorial in action: on one hand an ongoing critique of a passive remembering of the attack and an investigation into the deeper causes of terror’, and on the other a visionary and ambitious public art project in New York, reckoning with the catastrophe and its political implications in terms of a cosmopolitan democracy’.
New and unpublished hand-drawn sketches and digital montages animate the text, creating a vivid picture of memory at work. Wodiczko’s project is complemented by a concentration on learning and proactive programs of engagement, encouraging new and informed practical initiatives, paving the way to a less unjust world. The book is supported by text from leading scholars in a variety of disciplines: Mark Jarzombek, Daniel Bertrand Monk, Lisa Saltzman, Kirk Savage, Andrew Shanken and Mechtild Widrich. Their contributions constitute a forum published alongside Wodiczko’s text, ensuring an engaging and timely debate.
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Krzysztof Wodiczko is an artist renowned for his large-scale slide and video projections on architectural facades and monument. He has made more than 80 such public projections in Australia, Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.Review:
Thoughtfully edited by Mark Jarzombek and Mechtild Widrich, City of Refuge creates the type of open debate the proposed memorial is intended to offer.
By inviting responses to the artist's visual and conceptual proposal and encouraging critique of the project, Jarzombek and Widrich activate Wodiczko's project through a critical exchange with noted scholars.
The ArtBook, volume 17, issue 3, August 2010
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