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WORLD TRADE CENTER STUDIOS DESTROYED, ARTIST MISSING

Among the victims of last Tuesday's disaster at the World Trade Center were the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's two studio programs, Worldviews and Studioscape. The programs were housed on the 91st and 92nd floors of the north tower.

All but one of the fourteen artists currently in the programs are safe. Thirty-eight-year-old sculptor Michael Richards remains missing, having likely spent the night at the studio, according to those who last spoke with him. Like that of so many others, Richards’s photo can now be found on the makeshift bulletin boards set up in Union Square, placed there by LMCC director of visual art programs Moukhtar Kocache.

Kocache, a Lebanese-born curator based in Paris for many years, has worked with Elizabeth Thompson, director of the nonprofit LMCC, since 1997 to build a program to integrate the practice of art within the larger—sometimes alien—social world of corporate America. “It was interesting to be in that building because it offered a range of formal and societal issues. Being in a non-art space was key.”

At a gathering on Thursday evening, past and present participants mourned and discussed the future of the programs. “People just needed to be together, to talk about Michael, about experiences of the building, and also to discuss whether they, as artists, are interested in doing something about their experience in the program,” says Kocache, adding that the LMCC, whose offices were in Building 5 of the complex, also lost its entire archives, which housed the history of the organization.

The LMCC has already received many phone calls of support, including one from the New York State Council of Art offering them office space. But moving forward, acknowledges Kocache, will not be easy. “We discussed what direction the Council can take, and what efforts will be made to create a new structure. We’re not even sure whether or not we should be doing art at this point.”

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