Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Vietnam War Memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C., designed by an actual refugee from that war, Maya Lin, bears no resemblance to any previous war memorial. It is a long, relatively low, black marble wall that zigzags its way along one side of the park that links the U.S. Capitol building with the Lincoln Memorial. Inscribed on this stark wall are the names of Americans who died in Vietnam. Since its unveiling, this memorial has become the most profoundly emotional of all Washington places, eclipsing even the solemn cemetery at Arlington and the themed monuments to our greatest Americans. The Vietnam War Memorial is perhaps the first successful built environment that represents the unrepresentable. It exists between the grim reality of too many deaths on one side and the anguish of military survivors or relatives of the deceased on the other. No image, no picture, no video, no musicin short, no simulationcan present the agony of that war; the stark wall alone represents the unrepresentable.

John Cage - 433″ (1952)

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