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2,753 empty chairs mark loss of 9/11 victims in haunting Bryant Park memorial

March 3, 2017

New York Daily News

September 11, 2011

by Lore Croghan

A sea of empty seats, 2,753 in all, flooded the lawn of Bryant Park in waves of loss Sunday.

A poignant exhibition featured one vacant folding chair for each person who died at the World Trade Center ten years ago. The chairs stood silent, 35 closely spaced rows of them, completely covering the lawn.

Jochen Hellback, 45, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, found the chair exhibit haunting.

"It's so spare - and they turn south towards the Twin Towers," he said.

On the terrace above the roped-off lawn, a companion exhibition called Collective Memory took place.

A group of women dressed and coiffed like early 1960s secretaries and two conservatively dressed men sat in front of manual typewriters.

They took dictation on a very personal subject: Participants answered the question, "What would you like the world to remember about 9/11?"

Dov Lichtenberg, a visitor from Tel Aviv, had a ready response.

"The most important lesson is you should take your enemies seriously," said Lichtenberg, 69. "They mean exactly what they say."

Frank Dammers, 59, an artist from Amsterdam who's been doing paintings of what the new 1 World Trade Center will look like, took a totally different tack.

"There's too much hate in this world," he said. "We are all the same."

One of the transcribing typists was artist Sheryl Oring. She plans to turn people's answers, spelled out on slips of white paper, into a future exhibition.

Participants kept thanking her for letting them sound off. Not everyone was into her project, though.

"Some people find it very cathartic," said Oring, 45. "Some people backed away; it's too hard."