Somebody thought it would be a good idea to install a 9-foot-tall statue — paying tribute to Saudi Arabia and displaying its flag — near the 9/11 Memorial earlier this month, and New Yorkers are not happy.
— Michael F. Longo (@MikeLongoNYC) January 8, 2019
As a result, Port Authority officials have decided to remove the art exhibit and place it somewhere else after receiving countless complaints from social media users and local victims groups — who are outraged since 15 of the 19 attackers on September 11 were Saudi citizens.
“We have been in contact with the 9/11 Memorial and various stakeholders, and in full collaboration with the artist will relocate the exhibit from its current location,” the agency said in a statement Monday. “We believe this solution respects the unique sensitivities of the site and preserves the artistic integrity of the exhibit.”
Many of the victims’ families and survivors have sued Saudi Arabia under the claim that its employees had willfully helped the 9/11 hijackers. The Middle East nation, however, has denied its involvement.
French artist Laurence Jenkell created the Saudi statue — which is made to look like a giant piece of candy — as part of a 2011 exhibit honoring countries in the G20 Summit. She has taken the “Candy Nations” installation to over 25 sites across the world.
“I first created flag candy sculptures to celebrate mankind on an international level and pay tribute to People of the entire world,” Jenkell told The Observer after rolling out the exhibit last week. “Given the unique and justified sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center, it came to my mind to propose to remove the sculpture showcasing the flag of Saudi Arabia, or relocate it to a less sensitive location. But there is no way I can do such a thing as the flag of Saudi Arabia is entirely part of the G20 just like any other candy flag of this Candy Nations show.”
The Port Authority — which curated and installed the exhibit — made the decision for her and now plans to send the statues to JFK Airport, according to a PAPD spokesperson.
“The exhibit is being moved to JFK sometime this week,” the spokesperson said.
Relatives of 9/11 victims and survivors praised the move but still have their concerns.
“The Port Authority is apparently now taking the right action this week by removing the sculpture from the plaza at Ground Zero,” a statement reads from a coalition of family members. “Its apparent plan to relocate the exhibit to JFK International Airport is questionable as well, for obvious reasons. But surely the sculpture should be nowhere near the site of this mass murder.”
The group referred to the sculpture’s presence at the World Trade Center complex as an “outrageous affront to the 9/11 community and all other Americans who seek justice for the attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001.”
Many people had been blasting it on social media throughout the week.
“Statue needs to be destroyed!!!!” wrote one Twitter user in a message to the PAPD.
“BEYOND DISGUSTING,” another said.