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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mobilizing Pasts: Ground Zero, Representation and 'Outrageous Art' : Francis Franscina

Gurekta Sethi

1.Topic sentence: Almost four years after the production of the pragmatic image of American urban
devastation, caused by suicide hijackers who turned passenger aircrafts into missile loaded with
human captives, media and political commentators continued to turn to a comparison with this
official sign of national unity.

The spectacles of the culture industries, film fictions and television framed reports from embedded
journalists in Afghanistan and Iraq were symbolic screens through which representation of the
effects of Katrina Hurricane were first made.

Critical analyses of slow federal and state rescue responses to the hurricane uncovered domestic
realities disregarded in the aftermath of September 11th by a media complaint with the ideological
agenda of the Bush administration in its pursuit of a global 'war on terror'.

Key word: war on terror

2. Topic sentence: In 2001 the immediate rhetoric of trauma and disaster had human agents to
denounce as representatives of a fundamental attack on 'our freedom' and the 'American way of

In 2005 there were, initially, no obvious outside human agents to condemn, leaving terror and
disaster to be characterized as 'neutral 'or in the word of Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld 'stuff

Soon, however , human agency was identified as a negative contribution to the 'stuff' that 'happens'
and the inequalities of the ' American way of life' were revealed in vivid images and reports
on rescue delay, the awful conditions endured by the survivors, and budget cuts in domestic
infrastructure to fund the Iraq invasion.

The realities of domestic inequalities – class, economical and racial- had been overshadowed
by patriotic promotions of '9/11'images, which accompanied increased expedition on military
intervention, empire building and homeland security under a neo- conservative 'war on terror'.

Key word: semiotic clash

3. Topic sentence: At a concert for Hurricane Relief on 2 September, claimed that the 5 day rescue
delay was 'because most of the people are black' and that the President 'does not care about black

He argued that America is 'set up to help the poor, the Black people, the less well off' as slow as

Although acknowledging the extensive activities of the Red Cross , he drew attention to the negative

effects of the administration's foreign war on this domestic crises and the states readiness to use
violence on its own citizens..

Key word: Domestic crises.

4. Topic sentences: African Americas were the majority of citizens unable to evacuate the city before
the Hurricane Katrina struck.

Drawing upon the historical references o the status of New Orleans as a major port in the slave
trade, Jackson ( a civil rights leader) described his experience of seeing 5000 African Americans on
the 1-10 causeway: desperate, perishing, dehydrated, babies crying-it looked like the hold of a slave

Jacksons metaphor was made more poignant by the extensive floodwater caused by breeches in the
defensive levees.

Key Word: issue of race.

5.Topic Sentence: Critics drew attention to the negative effects of the Bush's administrative policies
and actions particularly the budget cuts in federal that made such breeches more possible.

In early 2001, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ranked a hurricane hitting New
Orleans as one of the three likeliest and most catastrophic disasters facing America: the other two
being an earthquake in San Francisco and a terrorist attack on New York City.

In June 2004, the New Orleans district of the army corps of engineers budget for levee construction
to protect the city was cut by more than 80% .

The budget was cut again in June 2005 by a record $71.2 million

Key Word: price we pay.

6.Topic sentence: President Bush attempted to bypass negative reports about federal responses to
the Hurricane Katrina by invoking the administrations preferred image of September 11 as a signifier
of militarized national unity.

Key word: Justice.

Ground Zero: preserving an image

7. Topic sentence: In 2001, images of "disaster" and military metaphors were combined in contrast
between the symbolic meanings of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Centre on one side and the
Pentagon on the other; tough the attacks on the twin towers became the media signifier in the USA.

To focus equally on the burning Towers and the Pentagon would have created a possible semiotic
dialogue between the signifiers of a double global dominance: American capital and military Power.

Key Word: Double Global Dominance.

8. Topic sentence: A criticism of this line of argument is that both the buildings had more powerful
multiple association and memories.

Andreas Huyssen claimed in early 2002 that the symbolic meaning of the Twin Towers 'is not that of
the terror of globalization and hegemonic power, as the blowback theorist argue and as it seems to
focus in the terrorists imaginary.

He privileged the representation of the Twin Towers as simple " home in the metropolis" and their
afterimage as "monumentally".

There are two problems with this claim. First, huyssen conflates both the ' terrorist' and the
theorists of 'blowback' as suffering from the same single casual error: ' no single nor even twin twin
corporate tower could ever represent the nature of global capital, nor could its destruction equal
capital's collapse'. A second problem is that he makes no distinction between his own personal
memory, the memories of others, and conventions of the media.

Key word: 'Infantile symbolism'

9. topic sentence: for many supporters of President Bush's "war on terror" critical references to
American foreign policies, particularly after September 11 , were regarded as incompatible with
desires to preserve "Ground Zero" as hallowed ground, as the site of an attack on the ideals of
American freedom and democracy.

Example – was a fierce campaign during the summer of 2005 to oppose the selection of particular
institutes to operate in the planned Memorial Centre and Culture Complex at the World Trade
Centre. Opponents claimed that these institutions were associated with criticism of the American led
invasion to Iraq, the internment at Guantanamo Bay camp and the Abu Gharib scandal.

Key word: neo-conservative culture criticism

10. Topic sentence: On June 10th 2004 the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced
the four selected institutions: the Joyce International Dance Centre and the Signature Theatre to
occupy the Performing Arts Centre, and The International Freedom Centre (IFC) and The Drawing
Centre to occupy the Museum Complex.

A year later the institutions selected for the Museum Complex became a focus of attack that
combined two previous conservative campaigns (First being the attack on freedom of expression
of visual culture, during the culture wars of the 1980's and 1990's. Second the condemnation of
the critics of the "war on terror" and the USA patriotic act as Un – American and siding with the

Key Word: Conservative Campaigns and cultural wars.

11 . Topic sentence: The IFC was created specifically for the WTC site as an educational resource
devoted to an examination of the enduring struggle for freedom, including its contested definition
and suppression, through exhibitions and interactive presentations

Clearly historical examination of America's failures and success in quests for freedom in, for
example, domestic civil rights struggle and interventions in processes of self determinations in other
countries risked upsetting political patriotism and binary definition of terrorism.

For those for whom art could have the potential for transgression and cultural critique, the role of

the Drawing Centre could either be embraced as a resource for creative freedom or rejected as a
possible site of renewed culture wars.

Key Word: Patriotic politics

Mobilizing Pasts

12. Topic Sentence: On June 7 2005, The Wall Street Journal published an attack on the suitability of
the IFC for the WTC memorial that unleashed further press attacks.

Burlingame (sister of the pilot of the hijacked plane that crashed into the pentagon, who wrote a
book ' The Great Ground Zero Heist') predicted that when the marines return to the opening of the
WTC Memorial in 2010 expecting ' a respectful tribute to our individual and collective loss ' they
will get instead ' a slanted history lesson , a didactic lecture on the meaning of liberty in a post 9 /11

To the IFC's organizers, it's not only history's triumphs that illuminate, but also its failures.

key word: memorial.

13. Topic Sentence: She objected to the funds being used to support the IFC, which she regarded as
being shaped and influenced by people critical of the USA patriot attack and 'whose inflammatory
claims of a deliberate torture policy at Guantanamo Bay are undermining the country's effort to
foster freedom elsewhere in the world.

Burlingame criticized five named members of the IFC, without mentioning that there were 89
advisors and board members and repeated concerns that claimed about torture at Guantanamo
Bay and Abu Gharib would detract from the positive post September narrative of enduring freedom
being fought for by U.S marines in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If such references and images were to be a part of the display at the IFC, she feared that this
freedom centre "will not use the word 'patriot' the way our Founding Fathers did ".

Key word: patriot

14. Topic Sentence: This and other publications explored acts and images that cast doubt on the
official agenda of national unity, heroism, patriotism and freedom, which justified the invasion of
Iraq as a logical development of the post September 11 " war on terror".

For Burlingame , discussion of 'freedom' at Ground Zero must be related solely to those who died on
September 11, 2001.

Key word: state terrorism.

15. Topic Sentence: Just over seven months before Burlingame article's, the emotions of mourning
and remembrance after September 11 were central to President Bush's campaign speech at
Manchester, New Hampshire, 29th October 2004.

The President described 'the enduring character of this great nation' in men and women: " I have
seen the character in people like Cheryl McGuiness ,Debra Burlingame and Elizabeth Kovalcin, who

are with us today".

These individuals were at the rally to support President Bush's re-election.

Burlingame also spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden,
which controversially played on the emotions of "9/11" to defend the presidents "war on terror"
and invasion of Iraq.

Key word:' Sacrifice of our freedom'

"Outrageous Art"

16. Topic sentence: After Burlingame's article in The Wall Street journal a major media campaign to
resist the selection of the IFC began.

The website 'Take Back the Memorial' issued a petition supporting a WTC Memorial to 'stand
as a solemn remembrance of those who died on September 11th 2001, and not as a journey of
history's "failures" or as a debate about domestic and foreign policy in the post 9/11 world.'

The front page of the Daily News on 24th June proclaimed '9/11 Outrage. Draw the line, now! Gov.
Pataki is allowing a museum that exhibits anti American art to display its work at ground zero. This is
a disgrace, and The News demands action.'

Key words: Media attack

17. Topic sentence: Feiden's article included the results of the review by the Daily News of 'Dozens'
of The Drawing Centre's catalogues since September 11, 2001, which 'revealed numerous politically
charged works tough only three were cited.

Feiden's was troubled by Wilson's use of figure that he read as a hooded Iraqi figure photographed
at Abu Gharib on 5th November 2003 standing on a box with electrodes dangling from each hand
and arms outstretched in a crucifix pose. The electrodes from Wilsons figure , whose arms are not
outstretched , fall downwards and spell out the word "liberty".

The figure and word described above is what Feiden described as a 'field peopled with dancing
skeletons'. However an inspection of the actual work reveals a landscape of fighting skeletons with
many holding swords.

Key word: Fighting skeletons.

18 . Topic sentence: Feiden and neo- conservative editorial emphases of the Daily News were
oblivious to the multiplicities of allegory.

No Key word.

19. Topic sentence:The Daily News was also critical of Mark Lambardi's Global Networks: George W
Bush, harken energy and Jackson Stephen ca 1979- 90, 1999, displayed in an exhibition of the artists
work at " The Drawing Centre, Fall 2003.

Although completed in 1999 , it draws on evidence of suspected insider dealing and cronyism

between 1979- two years after George Bush set up "Arbusto" his own oil and gas company – and
22 June 1999 when Bush bailed out Harken energy with a 200 percent profit just two weeks before
Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the price of Harken Energy's stock plummeted.

Key word: conspiracy theorists

20. Topic sentence:Lombardi's drawing is a part that stands for the whole of the exhibited works

These make uncomfortable viewings for those supporters of the "war of terror" and the invasion of
Iraq who were hostile to historians and theorists of 'blowback'.

Key Words: US covert operations

21. Topic sentence: His work engaged with dialogues between values of precision, elegance and
beauty in drawing and those of archival evidence for scandalous corporate, financial and political

Hence, the possibilities of such visual critique at the sight of ground zero had to be prevented so as
to guarantee that particular images and definitions of freedom were maintained through a narrow
representation of the meaning of ' 9/11' and the ' war on terror'.

Key word: Historicize the concept of freedom

22. Topic sentence: The New York Post joined the negative campaign against the IFC and The
Drawing Centre, and was more explicit about precedents for their objectives.

The newspaper was dubious that such 'outrageous art '' could be 'banned from the site': Defenders
of trash, and complaint judges would surely block any effort to" censor" works

Key word: outrageous art

23. Topic sentence: In response to media pressure, on 24th June, Governor George E Pataki issued an
ultimatum to the IFC and The Drawing Centre demanding 'an absolute guarantee' that they would
not mount particular types of exhibition at the re developed Ground Zero.

Objectors to Pataki's demand argued that it was a violation of the First Amendment but by
September both the IFC and The Drawing Centre had been driven from the project prompting The
New York Times to ask 'is culture gone at ground zero?'

Key word: violation

24. Topic sentence: A few weeks earlier, Caryn James in The New York Times reported attacks , by
newspapers and web sites , on an exhibition and conference organised by the Lower Manhattan
Cultural Council.

The Exhibition explored the effects of the USA Patriotic Acton artists including works ' already
targeted by the Secret Services', that had began as early as 7 November 2001 when federal
agents visited the 'Secret Wars' touring show at the Artcar Museum in Houston Texas because of
complaints of " anti American activity"

The exhibition in 2005 aimed 'to show how, with no accountability required of the federal
government, any cultural activity could come under investigation.

Key Word:" threathening" or "un – American art "

25. Topic sentence: The Daily News and the New York Post attacked the exhibition before it opened.

Caryn James argued that the anger directed toward the exhibition reveals some chilling trends:
the devaluing of art as a proper response to 9/11, and the persistent, wrongheaded idea that to
question the government is to dishonour the memory of those who died.

Key word: gooey sentimentality

26. Topic sentence: Early instances of what James described as 'chilling cultural trends 'are the
hostile responses to an essay by Sontag in September 2001.

Sontag identified a ' disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality ' and the '
unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media
commentators ' in the days after September 11.

Key word: 'reality television'

27. Topic sentence: Sontag argued that there seemed to be a 'campaign to infantilize the public'
by licensed voices, which systematically avoided acknowledgement that this was 'an attack on the
worlds self proclaimed superpower, undertaken as consequences of specific American alliances and

Not surprisingly, Satong's essay was unwelcomed to readers for whom the agenda of American
response was set by different texts.

Key Word: infantilize the public

28. Topic sentence: On 7th October the bombing of Afghanistan began, on 8 October Governor
Tom Ridge was sworn in as head of a newly created Department of Homeland Security, and on 26th
October the USA Patriot Act became Law.

Many Americans, including academics and intellectuals, were critical of such government responses.

No key word.

29. Topic sentence: Even before the publication date of Satong's essay in The New York , Charles
Krauthammer , in The Washington Post, Published an attack criticizing her intellectual ' moral

Charles Krauthammer argued that there was no other choice in America's response to 9/11.

Key word: Global Power.

30. Topic sentence: For years later, at Ground Zero and beyond , visual culture was still at the centre
of struggles between those who wished to critique or to ' wield ' American 'Global Power'.

In Neo –conservative attempts to mobilize particulars pasts, pragmatic representation of '9/11' as
national unity filter and manage the reception and dissemination of images such as those of torture
at Abu Gharib and abandoned survivors inn New Orleans.

Key Word: Pragmatic representation

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