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Letter to My Father (Standing by the Fence), 2005
single channel video, color/sound, 14:06 min
courtesy of the artist

In the fall of 2001 as New York City assimilated the effects and consequences of the attack on the World Trade Center, my mother prepared to die, as growing tumors invaded her brain as well as her sense of place and time. It was a matter of months; she too would collapse. During these conflicting months, she came to believe the cause of her illness was the WTC attack. As she dealt with the experience of dying in the midst of so much media confusion, the very personal experience of her ailing body and the very social experience of 9/11 merged: She too had been a victim of the attack. My mother died in December 2001.

In 2004, during an LMCC residency at the Equitable Building, diagonally across from Ground Zero, I produced the video "Letter to My Father (Standing by the Fence)," a meditation on and around the site's fence, or rather on "fences" or "boundaries" that reiterate divisions and propagate fear. The video asked questions about the future of Ground Zero and how it related to political decisions in this country. Today, I am saddened to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, as when I stare at the site I can't see "reconstruction" but the traces and consequences of political actions driven by fear, fear so big that it has prevented the process of a healthy social mourning.

—Carlos Motta, 2011

“Letter to my father (standing by the fence),” (2005) uses the fence around Ground Zero as a signifier for division and as a consequence of political mismanagement. The work speaks about the socio-emotional impact that the WTC Site has on its visitors. I asked a number of individuals to take a voice recorder to Ground Zero and speak about "what they saw." The narrative presents the resultant “testimonies” juxtaposed with a text articulated (in first person) by a narrator that asks questions about the dangers of historicizing the present, the meaning of a memorial in a place of big economic projections, the anachronism of a tourism of spectacle and about ideas of nationalism versus a “foreign” identity, based on his experience as an immigrant in the US.

Image: Carlos Motta, video still from “Letter to My Father (Standing by the Fence),” 2005
single channel video, color/sound, 14:06 min, courtesy of the artist

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