Joel Meyerowitz 9/11 Images at the Parrish

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Joel Meyerowitz, "Flag-Draped Last Column," 2002. Photo: Gary Mamay.

On September 10, the Parrish Art Museum opens “Joel Meyerowitz AFTERMATH: Images from 9/11.” The exhibition is on view through November 7 and features 40 photographs that depict the physical devastation of the World Trade Center and serve as a backdrop for moments of courage, compassion, and solidarity.

Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the attacks, the exhibition features exclusive images by Meyerowitz, who was the sole photographer given unimpeded access to “Ground Zero.” “Joel Meyerowitz AFTERMATH” serves as an elegy to the thousands of people who lost their lives on 9/11 — while capturing the tireless efforts of police, firefighters, construction workers, engineers, and volunteers from around the country.

Recently acquired by the museum and drawn from Meyerowitz’s extensive archive, the images originate from a unique set of contact prints — photographs printed on a 1:1 scale from negatives. Presenting a poignant, condensed view of the remediation effort, the selection spans the nine months when Meyerowitz was at Ground Zero, which was fenced off and classified as a crime scene. With consistent access, Meyerowitz documented its transformation from a place of devastation to cleared bedrock. Shooting day and night, he photographed “the Pile,” as the World Trade Center came to be known, and more than 800 people working there daily in photographs of great beauty that convey the devastation of the site and anguish of their subjects.

“Joel Meyerowitz AFTERMATH” is introduced by an ominous panoramic view of Lower Manhattan where the twin towers sit beneath a billow of encroaching dark clouds. Taken by Meyerowitz in 1983 from the window of his loft on West 19th Street, it is simply named “Looking South.” Titles of the photographs in the exhibition are often no more than a location, such as “Corner Liberty & West” and “North Tower.” These objective labels belie the impact of the image: “Interior Building West & Liberty” shows a once-elegant space in ruin, with haphazardly strung construction lights and the message “PRAY” traced in thick soot. “Firemen in South Tower 2001” depicts a group of workers dwarfed by the pile of rubble that was formerly a beacon of architectural achievement.

The entire set of Meyerowitz’s photographs form an archive at the Museum of the City of New York. The photo series was the focus of a 2006 book, “Aftermath: World Trade Center Archives” published by Phaidon, and an exhibition organized by the U.S. Department of State that traveled worldwide from 2002 to 2005.

Joel Meyerowitz (b. 1938) is an award-winning photographer recognized as a pioneer of the color photography and an influential street photographer. He is a two-time Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of both National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities awards, and The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal. Meyerowitz has published more than 30 books and his work has appeared in 350 solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries across the globe. His photographs are part of large public collections in New York at MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney, among other venues.

The Parrish Art Museum is at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For details visit parrishart.org. For the month of September, first responders and healthcare workers will be granted free admission to the museum.

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