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Suntowers (New York)
Type of Memorial: Garden
Location: Ground Zero to 22nd Street
City: New York
State: New York
Country: United States
Open to Public: Yes
Xavier Roux is a conceptual artist that wanted to respond to September 11. He noted that something small--box cutters--was used to destroy the WTC towers. Subsequently, he began to wonder if something even smaller--seeds--could be used to rebuild them. He selected sunflowers because he had used them in a project before; he sees them as an agricultural plant and dubbed this effort "urban farming"; and their aesthetic is sculpture-like, particularly after they are done blooming. This is the only way by which he could erect 7-8 foot sculptures around the streets of New York. Overall, he sees the planting of a seed as a metaphor for the whole project. By planting seeds he is meeting people, sharing experiences with them, and changing how people view the urban landscape. It "changes the lull of the urban universe" and encourages passers by to speculate on how the flower got there and what its history is.
Reason site was selected:
Roux wanted to rebuild the towers at a grander scale than they existed. He calculated 10x the height as stretching from Ground Zero to 22nd Street, which happens to be his neighborhood. He locates the individual plantings wherever possible, discreetly marking seeds with a stake and then a sign once they sprout.
Events planned for site:
The ongoing public interaction with the plantings is the main event. Roux has enjoyed taking his art out of the gallery context and putting it into the public domain, where the people are more inquisitive and have fewer preconceived ideas about his art. He has discovered that only a small percentage of the flowers make it to bloom out on the streets, as opposed to a much higher survival rate on his balcony's "secret garden." But of those that do survive, they end up more robust, bigger, and healthier--which he attributes to locating them in the public environment.
Do you believe your memorial is a sacred place?:
Roux believes that the plantings are not sacred, but that the project is more a process of reclaiming public land. However, he did note his own attachment to each of the individual plants, saying: "It's almost like they are people, because I planted them and watered them, and it makes me sad when they are dug up." Moreover, he finds his daily watering rounds and his long walk to be meditative.
Web Site: www.redseeds.com