Monday, April 02, 2007

Not-too-much Freedom Tower

The New York Times of March 28 advises that "Ground Zero Arts Center Won't Have Theater Company, Only Dance," the latest revision of the assurances that the site of the World Trade Center would become a cultural mecca. Two years ago the Drawing Center had its invitation withdrawn when an exhibition was criticized for being insufficiently patriotic; it may move to Burling Slip on John Street. (I couldn't find it on a map either, but I'll keep looking.) Then the New York City Opera abandoned all hope of building a suitable home, and will remain in the State Theater at Lincoln Center. Now the Signature Theater has been told it won't get its proposed three-stage complex, leaving only the Joyce Theater, a dance company. The article goes into much detail about PATH train access, the performing arts center's "limited footprint," and of course money, but are those at the heart of the decision?

Theater means plays, and plays contain words, and words have the power to upset people even more than drawings. It's increasingly clear that this part of the city has been designated a no-controversy zone, where visitors must not think, or question, or even laugh. Listen to the splashing of the fountains, read the names of the dead (in whatever order is eventually agreed upon), then watch the dancers move their beautiful bodies in abstract patterns which couldn't possibly embarrass Our Leaders or besmirch Our Heroes.

Can art be made at all in a mausoleum?


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