Opinion

How Far Is Too Far With 9/11 Art?

Today, Wooster Collective has published the above work by street artist Zevs that is only visible using UV light and was created in the actual room that the convicted 9/11 terrorists stayed in before their infamous attack (Room 233, Comfort Inn on 90 Maine Mall Road in South Portland, Maine).

I called the hotel and the woman who answered the phone informed me that they had no idea of the work and then abruptly said that if I had any questions I should contact their corporate offices. Which means we are not sure if this image is even real or potentially Photoshopped.

Let’s assume it is real, the question is what does a work like this do, beyond extending the fame and notoriety of an artist who is capitalizing on tragedy? Even Marc Schiller of Wooster Collective seems to know, as suggested by his tweet, that Zevs walks a fine line in this piece and its timing.

One would assume that few people — if any — use UV lights in their room, so who is this work exactly for? Street art groupies? His hordes of online fans?

The image itself is cartoonish and unreal. It almost feels like a caricature. In an age where artists, particularly street artists, are angling to stand out from the crowd this seems in poor taste and only supports the image of street artists as opportunistic self-promoters. He isn’t using the language of the tragedy, nothing here is familiar as being from the events. Sure, this may be a version of conceptual street art but that doesn’t mean it’s any good, just controversial.

UPDATE: On Hyperallergic LABS, we just posted a photography by artist Jonathan Hobin that might win the “most questionable 9/11-related art” award.

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