On The Edge of Good Taste
I read an article yesterday about a performance artist who jumped off of buildings (with a safety harness) the other day in Chicago. Kerry Skarbakka jumped repeatedly from the Museum of Contempory Art in Chicago while a crowd of people looked on:
A crew of photographers hired by Skarbakka captured him in midair, arms and legs flailing wildly. Some of the images will end up in gallery catalogues and museum walls - part of a series of pictures to be called "Life Goes On."
"I thought it was my responsibility to respond" to 9/11, he said. "This happened to be my response to that - my sheer inability to do anything about [watching people fall], my lack of control over the situation."
Not surprisingly, this is ticking some people off. New York City's Mayor Bloomberg calls it "nauseatingly offensive." And apparently he's not alone:
The NY Daily News said it had been deluged by messages complaining about the stunt.
“He just offended an entire city,” said Chris Burke, a former Cantor Fitzgerald employee whose brother Tom was killed in the attacks.
“I had to watch my friends jumping out of that building.”
I understand why these people are upset. But, I can also understand what would drive an artist to think about the events of 9/11. These pictures still make me think:
I think about these people in the windows. I wonder what they were thinking and my heart breaks for what happened to them. Skarbakka says his "stunt was his way of asking questions about what went through the minds of those who jumped from the towers and others who watched helplessly." I ask myself those same questions. How did they find the courage to jump? Or, how did they keep up hope to stay there? How were they able to calmly say goodbye to their loved ones?
I think that art is an appropriate way to try to answer them. Human tragedies have been portrayed in films, photographs, paintings, songs and more for as long as art has existed. I think it's a way that society as a whole copes with the event.
Believe me, I do feel for the 9/11 families, but it's not up to them to determine how the rest of us remember and cope with our feelings about that day. They may not want to be reminded of what happened to their loved one. I understand that. But, at the same time, I think some of us do need or want to be reminded of the human cost that day.
It's important that we never forget that day. Otherwise it's too easy to believe the Ward Churchill's of the world who insinuate that America got what it deserved that morning. Some days you have to try to put yourself in the shoes of a Cantor Fitzgerald employee that morning and try (even though it may be impossible) to understand what he or she went through. Then, you'll understand just exactly why we're fighting a War on Terror and why we have 500 evil people locked up and being interrogated at Gitmo. I'm afraid that if we forget what really happened on 9/11 we'll forget why it's so important to never let it happen again.
Posted by at June 17, 2005 12:43 PM
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|Daily Pundit linked with No, It's Not "Offensive"|
|# June 18th, 2005 12:10 AM mbrlr|
|The war on terror you describe was actually an assault on Iraq, a country which had nothing at all to do with 9/11 and whose WMD are nonexistent. A good number of those in Guantanamo are guilty of absolutely nothing, as are many of those we picked up and let other countries interrogate for us so we wouldn't have to worry about the law or the courts. But since those who may be innocent in Guantanamo and elsewhere are beyond Geneva, as it were, they have little recourse.
We come close to torturing people nowadays, and there are arguments to be made that we've crossed the line.
It's important to get bin Laden and important not to let 9/11 happen again, but is it worth losing the very things that define us a nation --- our respect for the law chief among them?
How about that British memo, btw?
|# June 18th, 2005 8:12 AM KVBigSis|
|I agree with you that this was an appropriate subject for an artistic interpretation, and I think the artist involved was genuinely trying to do that - to use art to look at real events in a new way.
But, just as the victims' families can't tell you how to react or feel about 9/11, you can't tell them how they should feel about this artist's work.
Part of me wishes the artist had defended his work, and said "I know it's painful and it's horrible, but it's the truth." And part of me thinks maybe it's just too soon.
|# June 18th, 2005 8:27 AM BrianH|
|Give it a rest mbrlr, this is not the topic to preach your rhetoric. I'll argue it on some other posting, but not under these pictures.
|# June 18th, 2005 8:47 AM kris|
|I'm not telling victim's families how to feel or saying they shouldn't bitch about this. They can bitch all they want, and, because of their status, they'll have a venue to bitch. I'm just saying I don't agree with them.
Some of the quotes from this particular artist make him sound like he may indeed be a jackass, but, KV, I'd agree, I wish he hadn't apologized.
|# June 18th, 2005 9:19 PM mbrlr|
|"Then, you'll understand just exactly why we're fighting a War on Terror and why we have 500 evil people locked up and being interrogated at Gitmo. I'm afraid that if we forget what really happened on 9/11 we'll forget why it's so important to never let it happen again."
Hence the preaching. Guantanamo and the war in Iraq have little to do with 9/11 and everything to do with who and what we are as a nation.
Services are at 11:00 and 5:00 on Sundays with daily mass at 12:00. All are welcome, but only liberal Democrats may take communion.
|# June 21st, 2005 2:22 PM homocon|
|Excellent post, Kris. It is important not to forget, and yet our natural instinct is to do just that -- to turn away from something so brutal and horrible in order to keep placing one daily foot in front of the other. At first glance, the artist jumping off the museum just seems like an attention starved jack***, but when I actually stopped to think about what it was that he was attempting to do, it gave me the willies. |