Author: Matthew Friedman

The Memorial Project: Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

There are 58,318 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, marking the deaths of a generation of young men, and eight women, in the United States’ military intervention in Southeast Asia between 1956 and 1975. The names are engraved in highly polished black marble set into the earth in Constitution Gardens at the western end of the National Mall. The memorial reveals itself gradually to visitors as they pass long the path skirting the lake: a memory first glimpsed, and then only fully apprehended as they confront it directly. At certain times of the morning, in the spring...

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Liberation Monument, Liberty State Park, NJ

Located at the far southern end of Liberty State Park in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York City, the Liberation Monument inspires a wide range of responses. Joggers stretching at the base of its massive plinth often seem oblivious to the dramatic sculpture towering above; picnickers at the tables in the recreation area just to the west sometimes gaze at it in a blend of curiosity and puzzlement. More often, however, passersby – alone, with a dog on leash, or with a child in a stroller – stop, look up, and contemplate for a moment the...

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How America remembers: An Introduction

The Memorial Project is a photographic history of American memorial practice since 1865. Using film photography to document monuments, artifacts, and spaces of collective and official public memory, the project aims to interrogate “how America remembers.” It is a voyage of discovery through narratives of the past, to significant events of national and community trauma, and to processes of healing and reconciliation. He came down the stairs on the right: a man in his late-60s, or early 70s, walking slowly, with a slight stoop. He passed along the long stone slab bearing the names of the fallen from right to left,...

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The Oculus: Santiago Calatrava’s Space of Alienation

The Oculus at World Trade Center in New York is a genuine, honest-to-god tourist attraction, at the same level as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and to be honest, a couple of steps above the Brooklyn Bridge and Grant’s Tomb. Visitors from around the world gather in its main concourse amid a chatter of hundreds of different languages, and look up in awe. “It’s amazing!” “C’est merveilleux!” “Alguna vez has visto algo así?” “Das ist wie ein riesiges Raumschiff!” The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s vast design is certainly visually arresting; it was meant to be, to...

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Fishermen of the Hudson

On any given morning, there is a trail of fish parts and entrails leading along the Liberty State Park boardwalk on the western bank of the Hudson river. The New York City skyline glows in the Golden Hour light like a picture postcard. A fish head here – its eyes gnawed out by the wheeling gulls – a fin or a tail there: the trail leads to a group of men waiting for the Atlantic tides to come in. They are the Fishermen of the Hudson. Frank has been fishing these waters for the last five years, as he...

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