Since the installation of the 1st Ground Zero Memorials on the viewing platforms in 2001, ArtAID has been doing public service artworks serving New York's September 11th community ever since. As with that work in 2001, and on many subsequent September 11th Anniversaries, the work was not officially sanctioned by the powers that be, we did not ask permission, but over the years the work has had a tremendous impact on everyone who experiences it. And we always knew the risks associated with doing this kind of work. The Union Square 9/11 Wall of Remembrance remained for several months.
Over the years, works did occasionally disappear, or were defaced, but never did an entire exhibit of photographs disappear overnight.
Quote from Keith De Cesare:
“The display was clearly identified as our property with our phone number and email prominently displayed, so we didn't imagine at the MTA would so quickly remove it without calling us or notifying us. And when we thought about it, we recalled that at the time when we were putting it up, someone with the 9-11 Truth group, wearing a shirt stating that 9-11 was an Inside Job, came up to us and made some threatening remarks about the artwork, saying that it was a “waste of paper” and that we had “better keep an eye on it.” So that was our first theory and the initial NYPD police investigation agreed. At the time they called the station manager and the MTA and they denied having anything to do with it. We also wondered if someone had just taken it for the value of the photographs which were very beautiful.”
THROWN IN THE GARBAGE
As it turns out, according to the NYPD, an employee of the MTA on a rotating cleaning crew, who did not normally work in that station, removed and disposed of the artwork. They didn't bother to report it to Lost and Found, despite the fact that each piece was identified clearly “PROPERTY OF ARTAID” in permanent marker. We filed a lost property report that very day. Nor did the MTA make any effort to call us, even though our phone number was written prominently on every print and the email appeared in the introductory panel. In fact to this day they deny that they removed it.
Please see the following links for more info:
The subject of the images was to Tell the Story of the 1st Ground Zero Memorials, an ArtAID story that we feel it is actually incumbent on the National September 11th Museum to tell, as they are in possession of all the original files, but to this day have not done so despite repeated requests. Approximately 30 images of visitors to the site in 2001 and 2002 show people pointing to names, leaving flowers, photos, or writing notes to loved ones. The need to tell this story is obvious. It's a fascinating and important story to tell, and as in every year past, we decided to tell it without being officially sanctioned or getting permission. The paper prints are replaceable. We only need to recoup the funds to do it again, however this time, we will do it with a guarantee that it will not be discarded after the ceremony.
In fact, we are now working on a plan to propose to the MTA to redo the same show again, as soon as possible, this time with plexiglass to protect it, and possibly the addition of cameras to deter vandalism.
Monica Iken of September's Mission has generously offered to create an online fundraiser: https://www.gofundme.com/replace-prints-destroyed-by-the-mta to help recoup the loss and support the ongoing work and mission of ArtAID #tellingthestory
We are deeply touched for the support received through comments on our posts, messages and others during the days after the display was taken down, from the botton of our hearts: Thank you!