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The ten years of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have caused an inflation of television programs and publications of uneven quality to take stock of the impact and the historical scope of these tragic events. The work published by Ouest-France and the Mémorial de Caen has its originality in deciding to approach the tragedy by objects of September 11, 2001, thus allowing a very strong identification, unlike the images which were looped on all the television channels.
The book September 11, 2001, a planetary event is taken from an exhibition organized jointly by the Caen Memorial and the New York State Museum, between June 6 and December 31, 2008. The aim was to understand the drama and to pay homage to the victims by making possible an identification with these last through objects found in the rubble. A concrete and almost palpable way to capture the event, but also to humanize it.
Perspectives on September 11, 2001
The catalog is divided into two main parts.
The first one, Perspectives on September 11, 2001, gives the floor first to Jean-David Levitte, former president of the UN Security Council. After having recounted the way in which he lived September 11, 2001 personally, the diplomat makes a political analysis, emphasizing the consequences and the importance of this day, which he considers to be the height of the fall of the Wall in 1989 He also gives his feeling about how the Americans reacted.
François Burgat, political scientist and researcher at CNRS, specialist in political Islam, is more in the analysis and in the nuance (some would say "too much"). He puts the attacks into perspective by insisting on the responsibility of the West for the emergence of Islamism, which he considers more political than religious, a defensive reaction "not always illegitimate". He provides the solution which, according to him, would make it possible to fight terrorism more effectively: sharing the wealth.
Alain Bauer, criminologist, dwells on the tremendous media impact of September 11, with these images circling around the world, mesmerizing him. In his analysis, he makes an interesting link between globalization and “the privatization of terrorism”.
The director of the Caen Memorial, Stéphane Grimaldi, presents the exhibition, which he wants both as a means of understanding, and as a way of paying homage to the victims of the attacks.
Mark Schaming of the New York State Museum focuses on the objects themselves: the way they were collected and sorted, their historical significance, and obviously for the investigation and knowing what really happened.
The testimony of Tom Rogér, father of a victim of the attacks, clearly shows the emotional and human bias intended by the exhibition, beyond the "dry" analysis of the events. What makes it original and the main interest.
Finally, the testimony of the main architect of the World Trade Center, Minoru Yamasaki, reminds us of the importance of the complex, not only in terms of architecture, but also as a symbol of peace, according to its designers ...
To conclude this section, we salute an Al-Qaida timeline before the attacks, and the almost minute-by-minute details of the attacks, flight by flight.
The objects of September 11, 2001
The second part of the book concerns the exhibition itself, that is to say the objects of September 11. There are about 100 of them and they vary widely, from parts of devices like seat belts to everyday objects. The objects of the police, and even more so of the firefighters, are obviously represented in force as the two bodies paid a heavy price during the collapse of the towers.
This part concludes with the job description of the FBI agents and all those who searched and sorted through all the rubble, for 1,800,000 tons of debris! This allows for a macabre count, with for example 4257 human fragments ...
The conclusion of the catalog is left to the exhibition designer, Patrick Gallagher. He comes back to the importance of personal items, which give a soul and "[recreate] a link between the visitor and the disaster". The artist does not hide his desire to move visitors in order to "assimilate the process of setting up memory"
With Patrick Gallagher, we can propose this book to "reconnect with September 11". The ten years will give rise to a bludgeoning of spectacular images, major geopolitical and historical analyzes, undoubtedly also a lot of relativism. This catalog allows you to reconnect with human tragedy, quite simply.
- September 11, 2001, a planetary event (Memories of objects-Histories of men), Ouest-France editions, in collaboration with the Mémorial de Caen, 2008.