Banner day for the Lady


A Chinese-born performance artist will wrap 3,000 American flags around Liberty Island in a unique tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks. On Sept. 7, four days before the second anniversary of the attacks, artist Pop Zhao will unfurl the red, white and blue necklace around Lady Liberty, it was announced yesterday.

Zhao's art performance, which will require the help of as many as 500 volunteers, has the approval of the National Park Service, which runs Liberty Island, said Commissioner Marc Koenings. He oversees the 17 national parks in and around New York Harbor. "It is kind of unique, and it sounded exciting," Koenings said at the City Hall announcement made by Zhao and Councilman John Liu (D-Queens). "This is going to be a visually compelling memorial to the people who perished on Sept. 11," said Liu, the city's first Asian-American elected official. "And I believe it's also going to be a way to bring people together."

Zhao, who lives in California, paid a similar homage last year by unfurling 5,000 American flags along a 6.5-mile stretch of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco. He also holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the world's longest artwork - a 7-mile "Olympic Dragon" he displayed on the Great Wall of China in 2001. Calling his work a "celebration of life, liberty and beauty," Zhao said the thousands of silk panels, each depicting the flag with the Statue of Liberty on it, will be unfurled in sequence "like a flower opening up."

The two-hour art performance will begin with a ceremony at 9 a.m. Liberty Island will remain open to regular visitors during the event, said Koenings. Alan Goodman, the director of the Sept. 11 recovery program of the American Red Cross, called Zhao's art performance a "wonderful healing project." He urged those wishing to volunteer to call (877) 746-4987. Originally published on August 22, 2003