Unveiled last Tuesday, London now has a second monument to the September 11 attacks which devastated New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Dubbed ‘After 9/11’ it sits on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.
The sculpture, created by New York artist Miya Ando and made up of twisted remnants salvaged from the ruins of the World Trade Center, is a starkly ugly and brutal thing – a more honest representation of this violent act than the sedate Grecian columns of its antecedent opposite the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square.
‘After 9/11’ has a rather chequered history – commissioned by the Since 9/11 charity and gifted to London by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2010, it made a brief appearance in Battersea Park during 2011 before disappearing from view. It turns out that the sculpture spent the best part of four years rusting away under a tarpaulin in a Cambridgeshire farmyard while the process of finding a permanent home for it became bogged down in red tape.
Today you’ll find it on a small mound below the back of the Aquatic Centre just off Carpenters Road – not exactly a prominent spot, and quite tricky to get to if you’re on foot. When the US Ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun said that this was a “fantastic location” for the sculpture, he was clearly making maximum use of his skills in diplomacy.
I wonder what influenced the decision to put ‘After 9/11’ there? Perhaps the powers that be didn’t want it to affect the mood of the OIympic Park, given that the vast majority of the public art on display has an unmistakeably sunny and upbeat feel about it. Maybe it’s just the fact that this is a really unattractive sculpture. What do you think?