Maya Lin: The Problem, not The Solution for the WTC Memorial

one memorial with a name wall, image:lmdc

While I've been contemplating what to write about the WTC Memorial, most of the ideas I've wanted to write about have been put out there.

At least they have now that Clay Risen's article in the Observer lays into the stifling influence of Maya Lin's minimalist memorialism. It's a topic near to my heart (I complained last year that the Pentagon Memorial competition had "far too many Lins").

another memorial with a name wall, image:lmdc
yet another memorial with a name wall, image:lmdc

Even so, Risen pulls his punches, and I underestimated the spread of Linphoma the competition finalists reflect. I only estimated 40-50% of the finalists would be Maya Lin mimics, but it's more like 75-88%, depending on how you count. Six of the designs list"The Names" on a wall somewhere in their design. The three designs with alternate schemes (some have multiple elements; 6+3=8 here) go the OK City/Pentagon route, with individual "memorial units." Out of the minimalist frying pan, into the fetishy individualist fire.

a memorial with a wall AND memorial units, image:lmdc

What's most frustrating is the tremendous inspiration Lin has been to me and so many others; she was instrumental to the idea for my first film, after all. Still, whether its her juror's eye or her daunting memorial legacy, we all just need to move on. I'm just about ready to call for the LMDC to scrap the eight designs, plus at least one juror, and go back to the hopper for some more appropriate ideas.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

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first published: November 26, 2003.

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