Sunday, July 06, 2008

Based in New Orleans for the summer of 2008

I have returned to New Orleans to spend the summer, arriving on the 4th of July in time to catch the fireworks over the Mississippi River. I’m staying in an apartment over a bakery in the Faubourg Treme. An area that wasn’t hit too badly by the storm. I will photograph how things have changed since Katrina, and document the 3rd anniversary of the storm on Aug 29th at the end of the summer, while carrying on with my project at Tulane’s Natural History Museum.
On my way here I stopped in Washington DC and was able to go behind the scenes in the Smithsonian.

Ann Juneau, a librarian at the Natural History Museum escorted me through the back rooms and introduced me to some of the staff. That museum has the biggest collection in the world. There are row after row of storage cases; it is mind-boggling. James Dean, in the bird department pulled out a couple of Auks forme to shoot.  The bird hall in the public museum area is in the process of being replaced by an ocean hall, so not many birds are left on display. I will return in September on my way back to NYC, and start a series on deep-sea coral specimens.
I also went to the Vietnam memorial to shoot, adding that site to my project on Dark Tourism. It is very moving to watch people who locate the names of those they lost on the wall. People do rubbings of the names of the deceased to take away as mementoes. 

It is one of the most successful memorials I have visited. Nothing kitsch or over sentimental about it. The memorial has a great sense of dignity and evokes a tragic sense of loss through its’ endless sea of names.
David Borden met me there and modeled for me despite the sun shining in his eyes. He runs an advocacy group fighting for social justice by way of trying to change the drug laws – called, Stop the Drug Wars Now.

My next stop was Montgomery, Alabama (driving a long stretch of road to get there– a good 13.5 hour drive from DC) to visit my friend Sue Jensen, who is a superb ceramic artist as well as a professor.

Before I headed out of town, we went to the Civil Rights Memorial so I could shoot another one of Maya Lin’s works.
 Unfortunately the fountain 
(an integral part of the memorial) wasn’t on. The guard told us people keep throwing coins in the fountain that lead to it breaking down. Even without the fountain running, the memorial had
 great resonance. 
It is located in Montgomery’s historic downtown, where a lot of old buildings are still standing; the place hasn’t been turned into a generic shopping 
mall quite yet.
The quote used in the memorial is one of the most poetic of Martin Luther King Jr's:. “….. Until justice rolls down like waters and the righteousness like a mighty stream”.
 The absence of the sound of running water served as an ironic reminder that justice is something that sometimes needs maintenance too.

My first full day in New Orleans, I wasn’t too ambitious, but I did stop my car to shoot a spot I shot over a year ago since the light fell on the sign much nicer this time around. The same couch, the same open door- the same closed car wash remain on the corner of Freret and Soniat Street.

1 comment:

  1. Howdy,
    thank you for this strange tour. I rode out the storm + that first week of the Federal Flood just around the corner a few blocks from where you're staying. You should drop by there to see about getting a bicycle cheap, the only way to see New Orleans. 511 Marigny, corner of Decatur and Marigny, the Bike Project is on the Decatur side of the building. Iron Rail bookstore is in the bottom corner. My writing studio was on the floor above. Get yourself a bike.
    Of course make sure to tune in WWOZ, but you probably knew that.
    A block towards the river from you is a great dog park where locals hang. Within blocks are: Sound Cafe': Port/Chartres, Flora Cafe' Royal/Franklin, Mimi's (across the street from Flora's) Schiro's (a block away from Flora's) MGZ 24hr Gorcery (another block away from Flora and Sound Cafe')
    You picked a great neighborhood in which to land.

    Welcome home,
    Editilla~New Orleans News Ladder