Detritus from the collapse of the World Trade Center with hand-coated silver print
image: 5 x 8 in. ( 12.7 x 20.3 cm )
Photographic image of leaf printed on business form.
Singed papers and other bits of debris from the attacks on the World Trade Center floated across the East River and into Brooklyn throughout the day and evening of September 11, 2001. Some landed near the Union Street studio of artists Doug and Mike Starn. The brothers and many who work with them in the studio witnessed the attacks and destruction of the buildings as they traveled into Brooklyn that morning and watched from the streets near the studio. They felt compelled to gather the papers that landed nearby so that they would not be treated as trash, but as objects that once belonged to people.
In a personal statement written just a few days after September 11, 2001, one of the brothers observed that, the "pieces of paper are part of the buildings that were such an embedded symbol of our adopted hometown." The brothers also felt compelled to help in some way, ultimately determining to incorporate the bits of paper into an ongoing body of work utilizing trees, leaves and photographic materials and processes. According to the artists, "the papers fell from the sky like leaves in the autumn, the leaves are the living heart and soul of trees all summer long... The leaves represent a creative life force and mortality- leaves die and are scattered in the wind, just like the leaves of paper.
The mixed media works on paper are sensitive, compelling and artistically powerful responses to the horrific events of September 11th. One of the collages directly addresses the immense magnitude of the loss of life suffered by Cantor Fitzgerald, a relatively small company that arguably has become the most widely known of the many institutions damaged on September 11th. Another speaks to the universality of the loss in which all New Yorkers shared, because the singed paper at its center bears no corporate or individual identification. Both are thought provoking, visually arresting responses to the tragedy of September 11th that merit a place in the museum's permanent collections.
The artists are identical twins whose work has been exhibited and accepted into the collections of numerous museums around the world. They studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and have worked in many media, including paper, photography, film and sculpture.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
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New-York Historical Society
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