Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Observations on Art 10.29

Last week Banksy, the British graffiti artist, submitted an op-ed to The New York Times that the Times board rejected. This is the text of that op-ed, a text the Times has said Banksy changed. I'm not going to say I agree with what he wrote, mostly I don't, but I do think that if the Times can print an op-ed supposedly written by Vladimir Putin they can print this.

"As a visitor staying in New York for the past few weeks one thing has become very clear to me, and I say this as a friend, you've got to do something about the new World Trade Center. The building is a disaster. Well no, disasters are interesting. One World Trade Center is a non-event. Its vanilla. Its like something they would build in Canada.

The attacks of September 11th were an attack on all of us and we will live out our lives in their shadow. But it's also how we react to adversity that defines us. And the response? 104 floors of compromise?

Remarkable for such a tall structure One World Trade Center lacks any self-confidence. How does it stand up without a spine? It looks like it never wanted to built in the first place. It reminds you of a really tall kid at a party, awkwardly shifting his shoulders trying not to stand out from the crowd. It's the first time I've ever seen a shy skyscraper.

It would be easy to view One World Trade Center as a betrayal of everyone who lost their lives on September 11th, because it so clearly proclaims the terrorists won. Those 10 men have condemned us to live in a world more mediocre than the one they attacked, rather than be the catalyst for a dazzling new one.

Nobody comes to New York to bathe in your well-mannered common sense. We're here for the spirit and audacity. Of which One World Trade Center has none. Instead you have to look to the rooftops, to the chorus of precariously roller painted names and slogans crawling over the skyline like poison ivy. This is the city's true heritage, a city that made it's name giving space to the mercurial and the brave.

 One World Trade declares the glory days of New York are gone. You really need to put up a better building in front of it right away. Or better still, let the kids with the roller poles finish it off. Because you currently have under construction a one thousand foot tall sign that reads, New York - we lost our nerve."

Given the opportunity I would ask Banksy a question.  If the glory days of New York are gone why did you spend a month here?

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