US & Canada

Artwork with Saudi Arabia flag to leave Ground Zero

A sculpture that partly features the Saudi flag in New York Image copyright Michael F. Longo
Image caption The artwork was installed in the World Trade Center complex last month

A sculpture that partly features the Saudi flag is being removed from the site of the 9/11 terror attack.

The artwork, Candy Nations, shows a series of large sweets wrapped in the flags of the G20 nations.

French artist Laurence Jenkell said she wanted to "celebrate mankind" with the work, which she first created in 2011.

But its proximity to Ground Zero in New York was criticised as insensitive. Some hold Saudi Arabia partly responsible for the 2001 attacks.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals, but the kingdom has denied any role.

Following the complaints, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey confirmed it was moving all 20 sculptures from the current site in the World Trade Center complex.

"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 told BBC News.

"We believe this solution respects the unique sensitivities of the site and preserves the artistic integrity of the exhibit."

It will be moved later this week.

'Deeply saddened'

The sculpture, which has been shown in more than 25 countries, was installed in downtown Manhattan last month - where it was due to remain until 28 February.

A victims' group representing hundreds of families has been embroiled in a long-running battle to sue Saudi Arabia for damages.

Ms Jenkell, the artist, told US newspaper Observer that she originally wanted to "pay tribute to people of the entire world".

"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," she added.

"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 of this Candy Nations show."

Speaking to BBC News, Ms Jenkell said she was "deeply disturbed and saddened" by the reaction to her work, "especially given the reverence I have for this sacred site that embodies resilience even more than any other place in the world".

"I support families who have lost a loved one and I associate with their grief and pain," she said.

"Together with the World Trade Center and Port Authority we have decided to relocate the Candy Nations exhibit to JFK International Airport in a fashion that will support its intended purpose and meaning - peace, unity and love between mankind."

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