City of Refuge: A 9/11 Memorial


City of Refuge: A 9/11 Memorial


21 × 15 cm | 6 × 8.5 in
24 ills | 120 pages

Author: Krzysztof Wodiczko
Contributors: Mark Jarzombek, John Rajchman, Lisa Saltzman, Kirk Savage, Andrew Shanken, Mechtild Widrich

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City of Refuge: A 9/11 Memorial is artist Krzysztof Wodiczko’s ambitious proposal to create a textual memorial for the 9/11 attacks, fusing politics and passion and displaying a unique commitment to resistance.

City of Refuge is a fascinating insight into Wodiczko’s practice, the political and personal concepts pushing his project forward and the idea of social responsibility infused in his work. His proposal runs parallel to the World Trade Center Memorial, but with the distinct aim of provoking a more active and critical commemoration of the terrorist attacks, understood in their historical and political context and in light of their domestic and international fallout.

Drawing his main argument from the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, Wodiczko imagines a memorial that is at once utopian and continuous with the concrete realities of the climate of fear permeating the Western world in the wake of 9/11. It is a passionate attempt to readdress the narratives of closure, hostility and terror through a memorial that encourages open, critical and democratic discourse. The resulting City of Refuge is a memorial in action: on the one hand an ongoing critique of more passive ways of remembering the attack and an investigation into the deeper causes of ‘terror’, on the other a visionary and ambitious public art project in New York, reckoning with the catastrophe and the political implications surrounding a ‘cosmopolitan democracy’.

New and unpublished hand-drawn sketches and digital montages animate the text, creating a vivid picture of memory at work. Wodiczko’s project is complemented by a focus on learning and proactive programmes of engagement, encouraging new and informed practical initiatives, paving the way to a less unjust world. The book is supported by text from leading scholars in a variety of disciplines, whose contributions constitute a forum published alongside Wodiczko’s text, ensuring an engaging and timely debate.