Archive for August, 2011
A dear and devoted mentor of mine, Walter Williams, recently (re)introduced me to the work of Diane Arbus. Walter’s friend and long-time collaborator Jim Wilson gave him a print of Arbus’ Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967 as a house-warming gift when Walter moved back home to New Orleans. When I first saw the image I immediately thought of Kubrick’s The Shining… and was a) happy to see a reference from one of my favorite movies/stories b) fascinated by the gaze of the girls c) impressed ab Walter’s shamless displaying of such a ‘strange’ work (according to some…). The very same print now sits above my ice box….
..and I’m feeling very drawn to and curious about Arbus…excitedly researching… driven by this inspiring start to another ‘school year’.
Swamp-dwellers, bayou-keepers and guardians of a vanishing language guide this journey through the past, present and potential futures of South Louisiana. Shrimp-boats with flags proclaiming allegiance to the Shrimp and the State drift slowly into focus; rocking with the weight of a family stacked four generations deep. Mutant creatures choking in a toxic stew of ancient remains bob into view as the hypnotic mermaid performs her siren song, lulling us deep into her underwater realm. Is this our future, are we the next Atlantis? We brush against a suffocating web of pipelines transporting the blood of the earth. Joyful gatherings ascend the sticky grasp of reality. Pristine wetlands born of ancient deltas are juxtaposed against modern canal-cut acreage. Skeletal cypress stands dot the horizon, bleached white in dark water glowing with a now-familiar sheen. The oily fingerprint of progress stamps out the view of delicate birds drifting through storms- natural and man-made. Ghostly outlines of South Louisiana melt into the void. We question how it got so bad as quickly as we return to our memories of better days….quietly searching for the survival solution.