“We move forward but it stays with us.” These aren’t Jenny Holzer’s words, but she’s the artist who molded them into a visual titan. This photo-illustration, now the back cover of our “Beyond 9/11” Special Commemorative Issue, is Holzer’s rendering of the significance of 9/11, done in her signature style. What we see are these words transposed onto towers that fell 10 years ago.
The phrasing actually belongs to Howard Lutnik, the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, the company whose offices took up the 101 to the 105 floors of the World Trade Center’s north tower. Lutnik took the morning off from work on Sept. 11, 2001 to take his son Kyle to his first day of kindergarten, and was interviewed about that day (along with his son, now a freshman in high school) as a part of our “Beyond 9/11” project.
After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in the late 1970s, Holzer began coining her artistic trademark by writing short slogans in public places. “If you want to reach a general audience,” she told TIME in 1990, “it’s not art issues that are going to compel them to stop on their way to lunch, it has to be life issues.” She went on to project her “truisms” onto famous cityscapes all over the world.
“Beyond 9/11” began as a series of portraits of the 40 men and women whose lives are forever tethered to that day, but we quickly realized that their words held as much power as their images. Executive editor Radhika Jones says Holzer’s work is “a beautiful marriage” between the artistic vision of this issue and the significance of the words behind them. Now, her 9/11 back cover image, wrapped in silver, sits next to Julian LaVerdiere and Paul Myoda’s “Tribute in Light Years,” a tribute to the buildings that are lost to us now.