SHAMEFUL ART ATTACK
By ANDREA PEYSER
HEART OF STONE:
Eric Fischl's "Tumbling Woman" is on display in Rockefeller Center's Lower Concourse.
- Dan Brinzac
September 18, 2002 --
IS THIS art? Or assault?
As grieving New Yorkers marked the anniversary of the World Trade Center's destruction, the folks at Rockefeller Center got in your face to commemorate the terror attacks.
A violently disturbing sculpture popped up last week in the middle of Rock Center's busy underground concourse - right in front of the ice-skating rink. It depicts a naked woman, limbs flailing, face contorted, at the exact moment her head smacks pavement following her leap from the flaming World Trade Center.
The worst part about the piece is that you can't miss it. Even if you try.
Titled "Tumbling Woman," the sculpture is by '80s darling Eric Fischl.
Since it's planted in one of the city's best-traveled locations, tourists, stroller-pushing moms and office workers - many of whom lost friends and colleagues in the trade-center atrocity - are confronted daily with a larger-than-life rendition of a grotesque episode.
"It's disgusting!" said Ken Fidje, 34, who was poring over paperwork at a table facing the sculpture yesterday when he looked up and noticed it.
"I used to work at the trade center, and I know a lot of people who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald [which lost more than 600 workers]. "It's awful. It's awful!"
Images of desperate people leaping to their deaths last Sept. 11 were captured by news photographers and seared into the memories of trade-center survivors. But out of respect to families of the dead, the most brutal still and video images are rarely displayed publicly - and then, only after sensitive viewers are warned that they may want to look away.
No such warning is found anywhere near the sculpture. There is a plaque featuring a Fischl-authored poem that reads, in part:
disbelieving and helpless,
on that savage day.
People we love
helpless and in disbelief."
Fischl - who was traveling in Croatia yesterday - was not in Manhattan, but way out in the Hamptons Sept. 11 last year, and, despite the moronic poem, he did not witness the scene his work exploits.
But one Rock Center security guard, forced to endure the sculpture because of his job, said he felt as if he were being dragged against his will back to the terrible day when he actually watched human beings fall from the sky.
"I saw 70 people fall from the tower," he said. "Fall from almost 100 stories! To see a statue of people falling to the ground - it's nothing to be happy about."
He said he was considering filing a complaint.
"You have to respect other people and what trauma this will impose upon them," said Michael Cartier, who co-founded the Give Your Voice victims'-advocacy group after losing his brother, James.
The sculpture is on display through Monday. Steven Rubenstein, a spokesman for Rockefeller Center, said the work was not commissioned.