In memory and tribute
Can beauty be found in rubble? The answer is yes if you are street photographer Joel Meyerowitz. Meyerowitz wormed his way past hostile border police and fire chiefs to document, on a nearly daily basis, the Ground Zero cleanup after the World Trade Center attacks. In Aftermath, Meyerowitz not only documents the arduous task of removing dangerous rubble from the site, he also honors the grindingly difficult work of the crews who steadily labored at the task though they were often emotionally overcome in the process. Among Meyerowitz's photographs is one of Pia Hoffman, a crane operator who insisted that all recovered bodies be treated with the same honor and ceremony awarded to police and fire department personnel. When the body of a civilian woman was uncovered, Hoffman lowered her crane's claw over the victim until officials agreed that she would be removed under a U.S. flag, accompanied by an honor guard. While our consciousness is permanently engraved with select network media images of 9/11 falling towers and sobbing family members the intense security surrounding Ground Zero during its cleanup has, for the most part, prevented the public from seeing other, grittier images such as the slurry wall underlying the trade centers, bent and flayed construction beams, and the workers who participated in cleanup. Meyerowitz's nine-month photo journal may be the only detailed photo archive of the damage aftermath. As such, his Aftermath, a large-format photography book, with four-page pull-out panoramic photos, exists as an important historical artifact as well as an emotional journey back to the terrorist attacks of 2001.