Remembering September 11

Remembering September 11

Since 1976 I have been making art. I am based in Los Angeles since 1990, but I get around.

My longest running art project, and that to which I have the deepest personal commitment, is Words We Have Learned Since 9/11, began in 2005. It has been presented in numerous venues in many countries over the past dozen years,

It seems to have captured the public zeitgeist and kept moving forward. Essentially, it is a participatory photographic portrait project that now consists of over 1300 photographs of persons who are captured in a precise moment holding signage on which are written either new words they have learned since 9/11 or words they knew but have taken on a new meanings. It gives voice to generations who have awoken into a century of vast uncertainty and information complexities.

The power of the Words Project is its uncensored and generous inclusion of people’s deepest feelings expressed though language and gesture. By simply listening to the participants express their hopes, dreams and apprehensions since “9/11” I tapped into our collective psyche only by asking for words and phrases that have recently come into our vocabularies. Words We Have Learned Since 9/11 is a non-partisan visual narrative, a poetic legacy of the first two decades in this century. It links people from disparate communities woven together in his non-linear visual conversation that evolves and intensifies the further we move away from September 11th, 2001. “9/11” has become the iconic event at the start of the 21st century, which virtually the entire world was made aware of and has in many way been impacted by. With each passing news cycle, it seems a new “9/11” springs up in another city, in another country, moving Words We Have Learned Since 9/11 into new directions and dialogues with collaborating artists and participants. Last night it was Barcelona, last week it was Paris, tomorrow Baghdad; the specter of trauma as a terrorist act challenging us to think about our futures is a powerful metaphor uniting humankind in challenging ways it has not had to be united before. It is a time to listen to our fellow citizens, and give them a platform while there is time and freedom to do so.

Words We Have Learned Since 9/11 to date has been exhibited nationally and internationally at Unit 24 Gallery, London; Higher Bridges Arts Center, Enniskellen, Northern Ireland; Nam Jun Paik Art Center, South Korea; Aaran Gallery in Tehran; Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, Paris; t WYSPA Institute for Art, Gdansk Poland; Scope Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland; International Center of Contemporary Art, Bucharest; Croatia tour- Photo Galerij Lang, Samobor, City Museum of Dubrovnik, Batana, Rovinj, City Museum of Vodice; Three Shadows Photography Museum, Beijing, Republic of China; University of Capetown, South Africa; Museum of Mobile, Alabama; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Barrick Art Museum, University of Nevada Las Vegas; Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery; Wonder Institute, Santa Fe; Pitzer College Gallery, CA; Skid Row Archive and Museum, Los Angeles. I am not sure where it will go next, I always wait to be invited. I do hope it will make it to New York City in some venue and in some format, on the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2021.

For this anniversary I am simply putting up my project, and making people aware of the on-demand book about the project that is for sale at cost (I make no money on this project)  on and through my website that links to blurb.

My deepest sympathies and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives and were wounded on 9/11, and with those anywhere who have died or been hurt since as a consequence of the governments and groups who feel that violence is a means of reconciliation and will stop at nothing until their madness is satiated.

Clayton Campbell

Los Angeles September 11, 2018

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