What We Feel and What We Mean
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The International Center of Photography/ 9-11 Exhibit

What an amazing exhibit! I could not imagine photos that spoke the full 1000 words until I entered this exhibit. Such heart-wrenching photographs filled with strong raw emotion. It was truly an experience.

As I went through the exhibit, one thing kept popping up in my mind: We should’ve visited this exhibit right after the 9/11 Memorial Visit. It complemented the memorial in every way possible. The exhibit seemed to give off a sense of time and place in between the past and present, where 9/11 has happened, but we haven’t just yet moved to the next chapter. I cannot remember the exact quote, but one of the curators and photographers had said just that, and they were so right. The sadness and pain felt through the photographs were truly overwhelming. One photograph was of a uniformed man holding back tears. It brought on such feelings inside of me. I was ready to cry right then and there. I had to force myself to move on, only to find yet another uniformed person holding back tears. This woman had been leaning on someone else (possibly her daughter? they had similar features) and it was just heart-breaking.

But I also saw the videos, oh what videos! To see a person’s belongings is to see what characterizes them, and I saw a whole bunch of personalities in those piles of rubble. In those piles of rubble, I saw among other things, a baby’s rattle, a child’s alphabet stencil, a student’s backpack, a college student’s Biology homework, a parent’s wallet-sized pictures of his/her children, a grandparent’s recent family reunion photo and so much sadness. What really broke the camel’s back, however, was the small boat in the middle of the wreckage exhibit. It was a small paper boat, not unlike the ones I am very accustomed to making. It reminded me of a recent time when, while on the bus, I saw a small child who was very bored and was annoying his mother. I put down my stuff, took out a paper, made a small paper boat, and gave it to his mother to give to him. He loved it, but he was unaware that anything was wrong. That experience helped me understand this paper boat in the middle of the exhibit. This boat resembles more than just boredom; it resembles a sort of family experience that was created in that train, and even larger, within our city. Yes, 9/11 has taken a bite out of us, but united we stand, even in the face of terrorism.


Joey Kabariti


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