Stillspotting NYC, an interdisciplinary project curated by the Guggenheim Museum, explores ways of finding quiet in the cacophony of senses that is urban living, especially in New York. Partnering with architects, artists, designers, composers and philosophers, assistant curator David van der Leer (from the museum's Architecture and Urban Studies program) and project associate Sarah Malaika steer the two-year project through its various incarnations in all of the city's five boroughs.
|The sign to the will-call gallery at Castle Clinton, just paces from our first stop.|
From the first, tentative steps into Labyrinth at the Battery (just west of Castle Clinton) through a short journey to Governors Island and back to Manhattan and the World Trade Center, emotion ruled. I had traveled to Battery Park by bus from uptown Manhattan to take in the urban morning expecting nothing more than to listen to the music of a composer I'd admired for years. There was so much more.
For New Yorkers (and Washingtonians and Pennsylvanians), the wounds of September 11 remain remarkably fresh, even as the ache of loss dulls. My best friend pointed out recently that the reliving of the attacks by the media and the constant streams of visitors who have turned the World Trade Center into a tourist destination represent a constant "retraumatization" for those of us who witnessed the attacks and carry the knowledge that we knew someone—either directly or indirectly through friends, family and coworkers—who died on that awful day (sometimes New York is an incredibly small town). After hours of making sure that my family was safe (I have a cousin who worked in the North Tower—miraculously, her entire office was uptown for a conference at the moment the first plane hit), I made my way to the magazine where I worked and spend the next 15 hours reading, editing and piecing together an issue that covered that day's events. Even years later, a beautiful sky—a blue, impossibly bright and crystalline clear one that only happens in the fall—can make my heart race, and I reflectively search the sky for the plane that will end it all.
|Entering Stillspot A, the Labyrinth at the Battery|
|"Silentium," from Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa, accompanied visitors on the walk.|
|These weather balloons marked each Stillspot.|
|Manhattan from the Governors Island ferry|
|From the haunted magazine chambers of Fort Jay . . .|
|. . . to the open space at the Southeast Bastion, with the skyline as backdrop|
|On our way to the Woolworth Building|
|Photos aren't allowed inside the Woolworth, but I snuck in a couple on my iPhone.|
|The views from the 46th floor of 7 World Trade Center|
|"Reflecting Absence," Michael Arad's design for the 9/11 Memorial Park|