“Daughter, September 13”: Rensselaer Art Student’s Work Will Be Presented by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City
Troy, N.Y.- After the World Trade Center attacks on Sept.
11, Colleen Mulrenan waited two days for her father come home
from his job as a deputy chief for the New York City Fire
When he did return home to Warwick, an hour north from Ground
Zero, Mulrenan did the only practical thing she could think of:
She began to clean by hand his work shirts covered thick with
soot and debris since he needed a clean uniform for the next
Mulrenan, an MFA student in electronic art at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.), documented her experience
in a video titled “Daughter, September 13.” The video, largely
of Mulrenan washing her father’s shirts in a sink, will be
featured in riverrun, an exhibition of film and video works
presented by the Whitney Museum of American Art and Minetta
Brook, a nonprofit arts organization also in New York
The exhibition, featuring Mulrenan and five other artists,
will be projected onto the facade of the 110-foot-tall Holland
Tunnel Ventilation Building in New York. Mulrenan’s video is
the only work in the exhibit that represents the emotional
impact of the World Trade Center tragedy.
Nightly screenings run Sept. 21 - Oct. 4, from dusk to 10:20
p.m., at the Lower Manhattan Waterfront, Pier 34. The displays
are free and open to the public.
Mulrenan’s four-minute video also incorporates sampled sounds.
At first, one hears the scrubbing of laundry. Then voices of
emergency crew talking via scanners and radios fill the
background. Toward the end, voices of children begin to sing in
Spanish, welcoming home the surviving firefighters.
“The terrorist attacks of Sept.11 affected me in profound
ways,” Mulrenan recalls. “Washing my father’s shirts took
hours. They were covered in ash and dirt. A part of me wanted
to leave the shirts dirty, to tuck them away somewhere. I knew
that some of that ash was not just building materials and
cleaning away the remains seemed wrong. Another part of me
wanted to scrub all of the dirt out so that I could erase some
of the pain that the attacks created. Most of all, I felt an
overwhelming sense of relief. My father came home.”
Contact: Jodi Ackerman
Phone: (518) 276-6531