Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
8:46 am. September 11, 2001. A plane crashed into the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City; and then a second plane. That morning, I had planned to take the 10:30 AM train from my home in New Jersey into the station below the WTC, arriving at 11:15 AM, in time to meet a number of former colleagues for lunch in Chinatown. Needless to say, that train never departed.
The WTC had been my commuting destination every morning for many years. Like hundreds of millions of others, I sat in disbelief as the unimaginable events and aftermath of 9/11 unfolded.
On September 18th, one week after 9/11, I was in midtown NYC. The city was in mourning, still hoping beyond hope that survivors would be found. The telephone poles and storefronts were covered with pictures of the lost and missing.
26 days after 9/11, on October 7, 2001, I first visited the streets around the WTC, and only then did the reality of 9/11 begin to sink in. It was a chilly Sunday morning. The public was told the air was safe to breathe, but I had my doubts. The strong smell of burning electrical wires and smoldering debris still filled the air, and many of the workers, soldiers and police were wearing facemasks.
I began making photographs of the area that morning, and continued for many, many years thereafter. What started out as a few casual photographs of an unimaginable tragedy became a 20 year journey, experiencing through my camera the devastation, the mourning, the remembrances, the memorials and the rebirth.
5 years ago, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, I had an exhibit of many of my images at Multiple Exposures Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Here is a link to the photographs in that exhibit https://alansislenphotography.com/galleries/97gallerysetexhibitions/never-forget/
Hopefully, these images will help us to Never Forget the morning of 9/11/01 that affected so many, and the sorrow, the hope and the transformation that followed. Photographs can be memories; they can tell a story; they can capture beauty; they can make you think. While there is no beauty in my photographs, they do help us Never Forget.
I’ve also included a link to a previous blog post that discusses three very special photographs that were part of the exhibit https://www.alansislenphotography.com/blog/2014/05/21/some-projects-just-take-longer/ .