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Subject: Patriotic graffiti

Patriotic graffiti

From: Mark Rabinowitz <markrabinowitz>
Date: Thursday, September 27, 2001
J. Claire Dean <clairedean [at] aol__com> writes

>I am interested in hearing about any incidents of "patriotic
>graffiti" that may have appeared on cultural property (such as
>public art, memorials, archaeological sites, historic buildings,
>etc.) since the events of September 11th, and about approaches to
>dealing with it and preventing further occurrences.

We have been addressing this issue in New York since Sept. 11.  For
about two weeks many of our monuments have become focus points for
the feelings of loss, rage grief and solidarity for all of us.  This
has lead to many instances of leaving materials at the sites
including graffiti.  Most of the graffiti has been chalk but there
has also been paint. I am enclosing a note I wrote about working on
them. The city is arranging a conference now on the proper means of
archiving the boxes and boxes of material that has been left at
these many sites.

    I, like most New Yorkers, have struggled with a feeling of
    inadequacy and insignificance after the magnitude of loss and
    devastation these monsters visited on us.  Everything that had
    previously seemed so significant before this event, work issues,
    personal problems, etc, suddenly paled in comparison to the
    needs of the moment.  Yet, almost immediately, the sculptures
    and monuments around the city became the centers of impromptu
    memorials to the lost.  It was as if this concept that we have
    always surmised, that outdoor sculpture somehow contains the
    virtuous soul of the public life of a place, literally embodying
    our dreams for our cities and towns, turned out to be true.
    Throughout the city, at grand statues of Washington or small
    flagpole bases in parks, people have been placing candles,
    photos, placards and signs as testaments to the moment.

    Yesterday we started cleaning and maintaining the Fireman's
    Memorial, a moving tribute to the lost from the fire department
    put up at the turn of the last century.  How much more moving is
    it now that more fire fighters have died in a single day than in
    the entire history of the NYC fire department.  We gingerly
    moved candles and flowers, teddy bears and signs from one side
    to the other of the basin while we cleaned the bronze and stone.
    It was hard to do but did help us to feel that our work, rather
    than being peripheral and insignificant, actually was at the
    core of the moment. If this is a struggle over cultures,
    civilization and values than surely the preservation of our
    public monuments as symbols of our beliefs must be important. It
    is those very symbols and the beliefs that they represent, as
    well as our very lives, that these men wish to destroy.


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:27
               Distributed: Thursday, September 27, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-15-27-001
                                  ***
Received on Thursday, 27 September, 2001

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