No Photography Allowed

When we were recently at the Phoenix Art Museum, I briefly stepped outside into the Dorrance Sculpture Garden (funded by Valley resident and Campbell Soup heir Bennett Dorrance and his wife Jacquie) and photographed this sculpture. Not until I came back in did Tony show me the “No Photography Allowed” sign for the garden. Oh, well, the guard was right there and saw me so I don’t feel too bad. I knew photography inside the museum is not allowed but I didn’t really think of it as applying to outdoor pieces.

Have you seen or read about this sculpture before? It is famous/notorious/controversial. It is called Tumbling Woman by Eric Fischl and was meant to commemorate those who jumped or fell to their deaths from the World Trade Center on 9/11 and was displayed in Rockefeller Center in 2009 (eight years later). It caused so much controversy from people who found it offensive that it was first draped and then removed. In turn, the removal of the sculpture caused outrage in those who felt it was an important piece.

“The sculpture was not meant to hurt anybody,” Fischl said in a statement. “It was a sincere expression of deepest sympathy for the vulnerability of the human condition. Both specifically towards the victims of September 11 and towards humanity in general.”

A poem by Fischl, which appeared on a plaque near the sculpture, read:

“We watched,
disbelieving and helpless,
on that savage day.
People we love
began falling,
helpless and in disbelief.”

I don’t personally find it offensive but I also didn’t personally know anyone who died that day and almost 10 years have now passed. Does it upset or disturb you? I think oftentimes that art is meant to provoke discussion and strong emotions.

I don’t know if this is the specific sculpture that was displayed in NYC as I read that five editions were cast. The plaque by this one says it is on loan from the GUC Collection.

My favorite piece at the museum in recent years is no longer on display. The security guard told us it’s part of the permanent collection so hopefully it will resurface again. This one I have known better than to photograph as it had a sign right next to it stating no photography allowed. It is called The Embrace by Patricia Piccinini (photo from here). It’s pretty thought-provoking, too, in a different way.

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