After an Outcry, a Public Art Installation Featuring the Saudi Flag Is Being Moved From Its Site Near the World Trade Center

Artist Laurence Jenkell's work is now headed to John F. Kennedy airport.

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The "Candy Nations" sculptures outside the World Trade Center Campus. Photo: Caroline Goldstein.

A group of oversized sculptures of candies wrapped in the flags of each of the G20 nations is being moved from a site near Ground Zero in Manhattan after the one dedicated to Saudi Arabia drew criticism from the public and 9/11 memorial groups.

The series, Candy Nations, by French artist Laurence Jenkell, was previously shown in the city’s garment district—and in some 25 other countries—without incident before going up near the World Trade Center complex last month. But the presence of the Saudi Arabian flag so close to where a group of predominantly Saudi hijackers carried out the 9/11 attacks struck some as insensitive.

“I personally think the Saudi ‘flag’ candy display shows very poor judgment and a lack of empathy on the part of the Port Authority,” Terry Strada, the chair of 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, told Buzzfeed News.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said on Monday that it plans to move all 20 of the sculptures to John F. Kennedy airport, according to Buzzfeed.

“We have been in contact with the 9/11 Memorial and various stakeholders, and in full collaboration with the artist will relocate the exhibit from its current location,” a spokesperson for the Port Authority said in a statement. “We believe this solution respects the unique sensitivities of the site and preserves the artistic integrity of the exhibit.”

Neither the Port Authority nor the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum immediately responded to requests for comment.

Laurence Jenkell, Flag Candy: Saudi Arabia. Photo: Caroline Goldstein.

“Given the unique and justified sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center, it came to my mind to propose to remove the sculpture showcasing the flag of Saudi Arabia, or relocate it to a less sensitive location,” Jenkell said, according to Buzzfeed. “But there is no way I can do such a thing as the flag of Saudi Arabia is entirely part of the G20 just like any other candy flag of this Candy Nations show. And G20 is all about that: peace, unity and love among mankind. Exactly [the] same meaning as my candy flags sculptures bringing joy and happiness to everyone on earth.”

Jenkell could not be reached for comment by press time.

When the project was first announced in December, Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton said in a statement that the project “continues our ongoing efforts to provide a strong bond between the World Trade Center campus and the Lower Manhattan community, and advance our mission of making this campus a dynamic hub for creative, cultural and community activities. We strongly recommend that those who work or live in Lower Manhattan as well as those who visit the site this holiday season take time to view these unique works of art.”

The work was originally intended to remain at the site until the end of February.


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