For this experimental video, I contrast the original 1976 commercial about the construction of the Twin Towers with rare footage of the clean-up efforts at Ground Zero from September 2001 to May 2002. The split screen throughout the video tells a story of the various kinds of labor that surround the rise and fall of the Twin Towers: first the construction of the towers and then the clean-up following the terror attacks. Even though the attack on the towers was one of the most widely covered events in televised history, the removal of 1.8 million tons of debris with the help of first responders, specialists and volunteers received much less attention.
Footage of the clean-up at Ground Zero shows how much of the work in the first few months consisted of hundreds of volunteers equipped with buckets and often sifting through debris by hand.
Nearly two decades after the terror attacks, about 10,000 rescue/recovery workers have been diagnosed with cancer while "more than 43,000 people have been certified with a 9/11 related health condition" (THE GUARDIAN, September 2018). Even though the terror attacks of 9/11 are long behind us, they continue to claim lives with many of those affected struggling to pay their medical bills.
Born in Poland, Viktor Witkowski is a visual artist and filmmaker who lives and works in Vermont (USA) and Leipzig (Germany).
Viktor earned a Master's Degree in Art Education, Art History and Studio Art from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig (HBK Braunschweig, Germany) in 2006 and a MFA in Visual Arts from Rutgers University in 2010.
My paintings and films generally address questions surrounding the representation of history, displacement, political conflict and violence. My work is driven by a deeply personal agenda: after martial law had been lifted in Poland in 1983, my parents decided to flee to what used to be West Germany in order to escape uncertainty and oppression. Ultimately, my work shows that politics and history are anything but theoretical constructs. On the contrary, these conditions affect people's minds, hearts and everyday lives.