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April 2002 - Nr. 4


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World of Olive Oil
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Ham Se det jehört?
Beethoven's 175th
"The Sphere"
Schönste Bücher
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Soccer World Cup Test

German Sculptor’s Work, Transfigured by Death, Rises as WTC Memorial

  TWIG - A 45,000-pound ball of steel and bronze is immensely difficult to dwarf. But this was long the fate of "The Sphere," a sculpture by German artist Fritz Koenig, 77, conceived to pay tribute to peace through world trade. Thirty years ago, his work was placed in the five-acre plaza that anchored Manhattan’s Twin Towers, but the sculpture could not but be overshadowed by what were then the world’s tallest buildings. When "The Sphere" was to have its official unveiling in 1971, the Watergate scandal again minimized the sculpture’s public impact.

Then came September 11, 2001. The hail of steel, flame and debris that fell from the sky that day disfigured "The Sphere" — but did not destroy it. As Koenig’s friend and translator, filmmaker Percy Adlon, noted, "they found the inners of one airplane inside a hole that was ripped open in the top of the sculpture. They found a bible in there, an airline seat, papers from offices on the top floor. It became its own cemetery.’’ Yet the work had survived in a condition that would have been recognizable to the thousands of office workers and passers-by who had gathered for summer lunches around its base over the past three decades.

Originally, the artist, who has also created memorials at a Nazi concentration camp in Mauthausen, Austria and to Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Olympics in 1972, did not want the work to be restored, preferring to let it rest as "a beautiful corpse," in his words. But more recently, his feelings changed, and this week he made the journey from Landshut, Bavaria, where he lives, to lower Manhattan to guide metal workers as they dressed the sculpture’s wounds without erasing its scars. Koenig says he now believes the work "should be placed upright again so that its spirit is not corrupted, and so that the memory of the place where people worked and met would be truly represented. As an artist and a craftsman, I offer my professional services to help to put it up for the families of the victims in the best possible way." He said his sphere "now has a different beauty, one I could never imagine…. It has its own life — different from the one I gave to it.’’

This week Koenig’s sphere has been the focus of world attention in its new role, as a poignant centerpiece in the temporary memorial to victims of the terrorist attacks, which was opened in Battery Park Monday (March 11). New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg led the opening ceremony, saying "The Sphere" should be a "place to mourn and reflect," but that it also stands for "the power of art to heal" and should "serve as a symbol of the spirit and courage of America and the resilience of New York City." Later that day, Bloomberg welcomed Koenig at a small, private reception at City Hall, where the artist presented the mayor with a miniature model of "The Sphere" used to aid in the restoration of this work.

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