Beer, Chips, and Terrorism To Go.


That’s designer Ryan Waller‘s smart-behind entry, right, to the New York Times’ “Help Put A New Face on Freedom,” One World Trade Center logo design contest. Asked what it meant, the artist cryptically replied, “The design says everything (and it should say multiple things at the same time).”

So, I’ll take a stab at it: Stores in the 7-11 convenience chain are often run by Middle Eastern people, of the variety many Americans broadly hold responsible for the September 2001 catastrophe, hence the allusive smear. As well, the opening within the “9” portrays the abstracted shape of a banking jetliner, rushing toward the viewer head-on, a la United Airlines Flight 175’s widely videotaped crash into the Center’s South Tower. All of which faintly suggest that Waller, and possibly someone at The New York Times, is an absurdist, a racist, or both.



#1 Tom on 04.16.09 at 12:14 am

Mr. Allen—you have a great blog.

My first impression didn’t register the race factor, though I must admit a blindness to it. I totally accept your point that the logo conveys a racial slur.

I see Waller’s logo suggesting other issues as well:

– the systemic influence of corporate culture in world affairs, known to include abuses of human rights and the environment

– the experience of human life being mediated, saturated, guided and co-opted by a generic, inhuman corporate culture

I don’t know anything about the artist’s intent, that’s just what I got out of it.

Excuse such broad strokes—trying to leave a comment, not an essay.


#2 John on 04.16.09 at 4:55 am

You seem always to jump to race as the deciding motive in any given action. While your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s, I interpreted that particular logo completely differently.

To put my perspective simply: one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the United States is most recently represented as…a logo design contest. The whole disaster has been turned into a slogan, a commodity. Something as seemingly insignificant as, say, a convenience store.

Recognizing the negative space in the 9 as looking like a plane is pretty clever but just…relax, okay?

#3 KRZ on 04.17.09 at 6:40 am

I think it’s Art, and not offensive whatsoever.

Wanna know what I think is offensive?

That the goverment claimed that jet fuel vaporised a Boeing on impact with the Pentagon.

In other words: they think we are retards..

I think that’s pretty offensive..

Every artist should have the freedom of expressing his thoughts about this tragical event.

I don’t see the difference between a “cruel 9/11 reference” and a picture of “Jesus on a cross”.

#4 Will on 04.24.09 at 9:13 am

It seemed instantly racist to me too. The design appears to be a person trying to be clever, playing on shallow comparisons of existing logos & slogans.

He also holds American societies racism up to it’s face without realising that he is also guilty of the same racism by playing on this knowing it finds a ready audience.

Nothing new or really meaningful here.

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