It consists of fifty jagged steel columns about 33 feet tall arranged in a seemingly haphazard pattern on a brick walkway by a country road in the middle of nowhere. Move around it and then something surprising happens.
Robert Krulwich muses on the symbolism of the monument and its location and why this memorial captures what such a memorial should be while so many others don’t.
To my mind, this is what a public sculpture should be: It should shift, play and be continuously engaging. Time robs most monuments of their original significance. Writing in the New Yorker recently, Adam Gopnik reported that the Statue of Liberty was originally built as an anti-slavery message, a statement by republican France that it was siding with the Union and emancipation. There is, he says, a “broken slave shackle around Liberty’s foot” that is now hardly noticed, because we have reimagined Miss Liberty as a celebration of immigration and welcome.
The new New York [World Trade Center] monument centers on two rectangles, “reflecting pools” that drop water into two pits to a dark space below. If “reflection” means “let’s be sad together,” these pools do that — at least for the generation that was around when the buildings fell. But I wonder what they will say to folks 50 years from now. You will step up to the two big black holes, see the water crashing down then, curiously, bubbling back up, then down again, and you will think … what? It might prompt thoughts about innocence or evil or falling — but, unlike the Mandela sculpture, its message is blurry, more sentimental than provocative. A good monument creates good conversation. In South Africa, they’re having a better one.