Black and White

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Rope carpet, enamel, and spray paint on canvas on wood
92 x 66 x 4 inches
Collection of
Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Just over a month after the 9/11 attacks, Dial was staying at a hotel not far from Ground Zero and had an opportunity to investigate the still-smoldering cavity himself. It was a time of mourning and paranoia in New York, particularly downtown, which had the look, feel, and air quality of a war zone. The fires still burned. The ashes everywhere were the ashes of a wholesale crematorium. The city was in the throes of a panic after industrial-grade anthrax spores were found to have contaminated a post office. The Bush administration had launched the invasion and bombing of Afghanistan to unseat the Taliban. Heavily armed soldiers patrolled New York City subways. Yet the small-town atmosphere of community and caring persisted. As the months passed, and as the feeling of community dissipated amid the war in Afghanistan and preparations for a new war in Iraq, Dial’s works on 9/11 grew more dense with detail and argument. Irony returned, too in works like Black and White and Everybody Loves the United States, which at some level satirize the conformity and the call to moral certainty that followed the attacks. —Amei Wallach