Aftermath: Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz takes viewers back to the traumatic days, weeks, and months that followed the harrowing events of September 11, 2001. It is on display at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College from Friday, September 11 through Wednesday, December 22.
Immediately after the terrorist attacks, the Ground Zero site in New York City was designated an active crime scene and closed off to reporters and photojournalists. Sensing the magnitude of the historical record about to be lost, internationally-acclaimed photographer Joel Meyerowitz fought for access to the site.
Through a combination of tenacity, fortuitous personal connections, occasional subterfuge, and sheer will, Meyerowitz became the only photographer allowed to document the World Trade Center site over the course of its painful transformation from disaster zone to construction site to meditative memorial. For nine months he photographed “the Pile,” as the World Trade Center came to be known, and the courageous rescue personnel, police officers, firefighters, and construction workers leading the recovery efforts inside it. Aftermath: Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz presents fifty of the wrenching images from this moving historical document.
Using both a large-format view camera and a 35-milimeter Leica, Meyerowitz made over 8,000 images around the sixteen-acre site where the Twin Towers once stood. His images show the mangled metal, shards of broken glass, and cascades of files and papers in the still-smoldering piles of debris; the riot of patriotic color seen in spontaneous memorials; and the elegiac silence of the dust that seemed to cover every surface in Lower Manhattan. Eventually, as his weeks in “the Pile” wore on, his subject shifted from the panoramic sweep of complete devastation to the intimate moments of mourning, strength, determination, and resilience in the faces and figures of the people on hand. In clearing the debris, these men and women prepared the nation’s collective wound to be healed.
The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, 601 E. Main St., Collegeville, is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is closed on Mondays and Sundays. Admission to the Berman Museum is always free. It is accessible to visitors with disabilities.