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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Remembering 9/11:

Striking imagery becomes a major exhibit at 9/11 Museum

The Photographs of Jonathan Hyman

By Dan Hust - staff writer

Dan Hust | Democrat
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum in lower Manhattan features a park surrounding the footprints of the Twin Towers - now consisting of waterfalls pouring into pools and open pits, ringed by the names of those who perished in the attacks.
LOWER MANHATTAN — Directly underneath where the Twin Towers' South Tower once stood hang the most intimate, emotional and gripping examples of photographer Jonathan Hyman's seminal work.
Just around the corner from the South Tower's foundation, now bereft of the famous skyscraper that once soared more than 110 stories above, is an exhibit of Hyman's work: “Beyond Ground Zero: 9/11 and the American Landscape.”
Though offering only a fraction of the 20,000 photographs Hyman took in the wake of 9/11, the display represents a pinnacle achievement for the Smallwood resident - and a noteworthy portion of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan.
“The World Trade Center Museum considers my photographs and the stories I am telling about them cornerstone material. So I look forward to a productive and ongoing relationship with the 9/11 Memorial,” Hyman told the Democrat after the official debut of the exhibit on July 12.
“Sunday was a day of gratifying personal recognition for me and the long-term project I have been engaged in,” he acknowledged.
“But more importantly, it was a day for me to introduce to an international audience not only my work, but many of the people and families connected to the photographs in the exhibit.”
Indeed, much of the two classrooms where Hyman introduced his work were packed with those he photographed - images of their homes, their neighborhoods, their very skin, wherever they had painted, inked, constructed their way of remembering 9/11.
Listeners were privileged to meet the real people associated with Hyman's work, and then to walk down the museum's hallway to the South Tower Gallery, where visitors were presented with the most interesting, challenging and inspiring images Hyman has spent the past decade-plus collecting.
No other artist's works compete in this space for the viewer's attention, illustrating the importance the museum's curators place on the collection.
“Although the WTC Museum owns over 50 of my photographs, many purchased, some donated by me, I receive no monetary remuneration for the exhibit,” explained Hyman.
Nevertheless, he and his work will earn immense notice through the May 2016 run of the exhibit.
“I expect and hope that the exposure from this exhibit will benefit my ongoing 9/11-related work and help interest a collecting cultural institution or university to purchase my archive of more than 20,000 images and associated materials and oral histories,” he said. “This will give me the much-needed time and institutional support to catalog and archive my images and oral histories.”
In the meantime, he hopes to continue lecturing both domestically and globally, perhaps teaching too.
He's also working on a project about the rise and use of the POW/MIA flag, among other explorations of public and private memorials.
It thus seems fitting that his deep look at the memorialization of 9/11 should find a home directly underneath the national 9/11 Memorial.
“Now that collectively, we all have some distance because of the passage of time, I hope many take the opportunity to seek further and deeper perspective,” he remarked.
“I photographed everything I saw - the good, the bad, the ugly. All deeply emotional. It's my hope that viewers of the exhibit draw their own conclusions about what the attacks meant to themselves, their families, and their country - wherever they are from - and what, if anything, they can do to make a better world, where there are no more 9/11s.”

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