Saturday, September 10, 2011
For the past three decades, nearly every time I flew on a plane, I pilfered an emergency flight brochure. It became a minor collection of souvenirs. I thought one day I'd use them in some sort of art project for my somewhat closeted hobby of making collages.
After 9/11, like many people, I got a sad haunted feeling every time I saw the World Trade Center in TV shows and films. I began copying these clips onto a VHS tape, then a DVD. I also downloaded the horrifically ironic scene in the film 'Godspell,' where a clown Jesus and pals sing, "Yes, It's All For the Best!" from the roof of one of the Twin Towers. That scene is missing from the montage above.
As some know, I used to live in Manhattan and Jersey City in the 1980s and '90s. My ex-sister-in-law's loft on Cedar Street is across the street from the WTC, and I worked and commuted there frequently.
I even got funding for, and created, wrote and composed a musical in 1998 set in the World Trade Center's PATH station, called Under the River. Both of my pre-9/11 New York novels, Monkey Suits and Cyclizen, include scenes near, and under, the towers.
Years before PINS took shape, I first wrote the first draft of Monkey Suits on a tiny Macintosh in the loft, before I even had a computer. My ex-sister-in-law's home, which I visited weeks afterward, was severely damaged, and that itself became a serious media topic for a long time.
So, I feel a connection in my own small way. A while back, I developed a proposal for a 9/11 art installation to be put up somewhere during September of this year. I submitted it to a few galleries (they succinctly rejected it) and it was accepted to be part of a local arts festival which I no longer care to mention by name. I dropped out for various very unpleasant reasons.
Then I noticed that the window installations at the Little Roxie had a few upcoming vacancies. They liked my pared down much smaller version of the concept. I began to collect the additional materials.
After a minor setback with installing it, last Saturday, I spent four hours putting it together while hearing the audio for the film Shut up, Little Man! playing from the nearby projection booth.
But then the electrical outlet malfunctioned. The management has been very nice in attempting to accommodate the problem, but it mostly won't be seen lit up at night, which completely defeats the purpose of the installation. The collected clips were converted into a looped DVD, which is supposed to glow upward to the string-fabricated "twin towers," which, below, are surrounded by "buildings" composed of most of those collected flight brochures.
It's kitschy, tiny, and only deals with a minor aspect of this entirely overwhelming event, one which has changed our lives, and destroyed so many others.
I still have yet to get a good photo of it at night, when the security gates aren't covering up the window.
Perhaps it's appropriate that I installed the work over Labor Day weekend, the same time when thousands flocked to Burning Man. Former club promoter Ggreg Taylor's famous phrase about Playa art projects sums it up succinctly: "Great ideas gone horribly wrong."
Stop by and check it out, through September. Or, like most of the deranged homeless people and partying drunks along that messy little block will probably do, ignore it completely.