WTC > paintings

In 2001, death and destruction fell from the sky upon Manhattan's World Trade Center, leaving behind thousands lives slaughtered, a gigantic scar in the city, human beings forever broken by the loss of their loved ones, and a universal trauma.

By July 2002, a series of proposals were unveiled by the LMDC (Lower Manhattan Development Council), for the purpose of a rebuilding of the WTC Site. As it happened, none of them proposed the reconstruction of the Twin Towers.
These projects were all rejected by a vast majority of the New Yorkers' community. Perhaps because the Lower Manhattan Development Council Program's anthem was the Rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Many thus expected to see at least some project showing the Twin Towers back.

The LMDC hence launched a new consultation. Its results were unveiled by December 2002, with a presentation to the New Yorkers of 7 new projects. At that time, I was already sure that this second round would not meet any better success if it dismissed two very simple and obligatory specifications, that were :

1- the remembrance and homage to the thousands lives destroyed and to the people left mourning and grieving.
2- the restoration of the worldwide famous Manhattan's Skyline.

Of course, the problem with that equation was that attempting to solve one of its terms seemed to automatically inflict injury to the other : making one side happy resulted in dooming the other to frustration. Indeed, considering the Twin Towers' identical rebuilding as a possible option instantly brought up insolvable pitfalls and issues. Because one stumbled frontally against the equation's first term : remembrance and homage to the thousands lives destroyed and to the thousands of people mourning and grieving. Ultimately, one had to admit that rebuilding the Twins just as they were would in a certain way mean restoring the Skyline as if nothing ever happened.

At that point it became obvious to me that if the Manhattan’s Skyline demanded a rebuilding of the Twin Towers, it was mandatory that the new buildings could testify by giving evidence about what had happened on September 11, 2001.

And that idea which had germinated soon right after the attacks, and which had dozed off in a corner of my memory, suddenly awoke. Its terms fully and faithfully restored the famous urban skyline destroyed by the attacks. At the same time, it visibly testified to the tragedy of September 11. Until then I had only had a concept in mind. Now I had the opportunity to visualize it. My medium of expression being painting, I therefore began the execution of three paintings.

The first one was to express the concept, the whys and therefores of the thinking process. I called that painting "Manifesto". The two others were to show the reality of the reconstruction concept, what it would look like by day but also at night. Starting my work by early September, it took me three months to finish those paintings.

My initial project was to entrusting them to one of the firefighters who survived the Tower's collapse : James Hanlon.
Why James Hanlon?

It turns out that in 2001, the French channel France 3 had broadcast New York : 11 Septembre, an indispensable and poignant documentary film by Jules and Gédéon Naudet, Rob Klug and James Hanlon, which told of the front line immersion of the firemen of the Fire Unit Engine 7-Ladder 1 based at 100 Duane Street, in the immediate vicinity of the Twin Towers' site.
After the September 11 events, James Hanlon had continued to work in that Fire Station. At the time, he was also a professional actor, in Television series and in the Theater domain. He later pursued his career in Los Angeles by leaving for good his fire man's job, and by becoming a full time director for TV series.










© Jacques Benoit. Design, œuvres, photographies et textes par Jacques Benoit et placés sous son copyright. Les contenus provenant d'autres sources sont crédités comme tel, ainsi que leur origine.
© Jacques Benoit. Design, works, photographies and texts by Jacques Benoit and under the author’s copyright. Except when derived from other sources and then mentioned as such.