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Sunday September 22, 2002

The Tumbling Woman

The Tumbling Woman Controversy

I'm an artist. Or, at least an artist-wannabe. So I guess that means I'm going to be a wee bit biased where the issue of art is concerned. This story has been all over the news for the last few days. A statue created by artist Eric Fischl in remembrance of the World Trade Center attack victims has been covered, sectioned off, and censored over the complaints that it was too graphic.

I wasn't at ground zero on 9/11/01. I was safely watching the carnage on television, hundreds of miles away. I have no idea what it must feel like for those who witnessed the event in person to see this statue in public. I don't think it should have been displayed publicly in New York, at least not as long as the emotions were (are) still so raw. But I have two issues with those who believe that this statue isn't 'art' because it's 'ugly' and 'graphic.'

1. It's too graphic... How can anything portraying the events of that day not be graphic? No news story that I've heard of mentions complaints about other graphic images taken from that day. The videos on CNN showing planes plunging into buildings are graphic. Shots of people hanging out of windows on the 98th floor are graphic. Clips of American planes dropping bombs on mud huts are graphic. And yes, the sculpture is also graphic. What else could it be?

2. It's not art... I'm not sure that I understand why it is that some people believe that in order for something to be considered 'art' it must contain pretty flowers and use the color dusty rose. I remember the day after the attack my art teacher said she saw in the newspaper that morning a photograph of a man falling from one of the towers. He was wearing a white dress shirt and black pants, and was falling upside-down. His hair was a mess, because the wind was whipping it around. But even as he was falling to his death, he looked peaceful. It's almost blasphemous to say it, but I feel the same way about this piece. It's graphic, disturbing, and really, really, beautiful.

That thing needs to be seen, by those who want to see for themselves what was happening to those people who chose to jump. Maybe not in a mall or a train station --not any place a person who was at ground zero 9/11/01 would be forced to look at it (I don't think looking away is really an option). But somewhere. It really does have to be seen.

My two cents.