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Claire Lambrecht: No Sound, But So Loud

September 12, 2011

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The International Center of Photography’s installation, “Memory Remains: 9/11 Artifacts in Hangar 17,” reminds us how simple items, such as an aging subway ad and a newspaper clipping, have the ability to access a truth that exceeds the grasp of words.

By **Claire Lambrecht**

claire lambrecht.jpgThere was a strange sort of electricity in the air this weekend, the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Choppers hovered above Midtown, construction cranes flanked the Ground Zero site, and flags returned to telephone poles. Even if residents of New York did not participate in discussion panels or read nonfiction narratives in The New Yorker; even if they tended to afternoon cocktails or children instead of attending museum openings; there was a peculiar energy in this city that was difficult to ignore: sirens seemed more frequent, subway pauses felt less ordinary, and the rumble of an airplane sounded louder than normal. Weaving through rush hour foot traffic in Bryant Park one got the feeling that the entire city was holding its breath.

“Memory Remains: 9/11 Artifacts in Hangar 17,” an installation featured in the International Center of Photography’s exhibition Remembering 9/11 (through January 8, 2012), harnesses this anxious silence. The exhibition space of “Memory Remains,” a small, carpeted room in the basement of the ICP, is as quiet and constricted as a sound booth. Inside, Francesc Torres’s images, broadcast in floor-to-ceiling slideshows, present images of the twisted steel bars, space age broadcast antennae, and broken subway turnstiles that were salvaged from the Ground Zero. “This could not be my world,” you tell yourself, imagining that these rusty artifacts from a salvaged ship, a foreign war, or a fallen dictatorship. Then you see something: a defunct train car with ad for the 2001 U.S. Open.

In an era when the rhetoric of tragedy has been co-opted by so many; an aging subway ad, newspaper clipping, or metro card, have the ability to access a truth that exceeds the grasp of words. “Like a rest in music,” Sissy Spacek’s character says in In the Bedroom, “no sound but so loud.”

The ICP is offering free admission and tours of Remembering 9/11 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 11. “Memory Remains: Artifacts at Hangar 17” is presented in association with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

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Claire Lambrecht is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and a graduate student studying Culural Reporting and Criticism at NYU. You can follow her on Twitter @clairelambrecht

  Noam Chomsky: Was There an Alternative?: Looking Back on 9/11 a Decade Later: Osama bin Laden may be dead, but his American legacy lives on fiercely in Washington policy . More
 
  Nigel Young: 9/11: Working in the Fields of Memory: As we near the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it is important that we consider how we choose to remember. More
     
  Tom Engelhardt: Let’s Cancel 9/11: Bury the War State’s Blank Check at Sea: Our “ceremonies of hubris” have for the last decade provided a blank check to the war state. More
 
  Remains of the Day: A Port Authority executive recalls the worst day of her life. More

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