By Tim Harfmann
Sculptures displayed outside the Oculus at the 9/11 site sparked controversy among New Yorkers who are still deeply affected by the attack. A French artist created the nine-foot-tall statues in the shape of candy. Each one is painted with flags representing G20 countries.
The exhibit titled “Candy Nations” includes the flag of Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 9/11 terrorists held Saudi passports, drawing outrage from online users. “It’s fine that they have a piece of candy that signifies the country, but maybe they could put it in a place that isn’t so close to the bone for New Yorkers,” said Jill Braaten, a New Yorker passing the site.
The exhibit has been on display in 25 countries and was installed at the 9/11 site earlier this month. The Port Authority released a statement, “We have been in contact with the 9/11 Memorial and various stakeholders, and in full collaboration with the artist will relocate the exhibit from its current location. We believe this solution respects the unique sensitivities of the site and preserves the artistic integrity of the exhibit.”
The Port Authority is expected to relocate the display at JFK airport. “I don’t believe that is a representation of the entire country of Saudi Arabia,” said Ari Levin, who works in New York City. “Therefore, that country shouldn’t be disqualified or the art representing should be removed.”
One World Trade Center towers over the site, but it’s not enough to overshadow the negative feelings these nine-foot-statues bring. “I understand why some people would still be very, very triggered. Not being American or having been here, and the pain and suffering that people felt; I can feel it. It’s palpable when you arrive here. People are still feeling anxious and a bit shaky,” said Veronica Farmer, a tourist from Australia.
The sculptures were scheduled to be on display in Lower Manhattan for two months. No word on when they’ll be displayed at JFK or how long they’ll be there.