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The Color of Loss: An Intimate Portrait of New Orleans after Katrina Hardcover – Mar 1 2008
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"The wonder of these photographs is that they look like paintings, yet the objects depicted within them are not idealized. The dying domestic objects of the people to whom these interiors belong are no longer of this world. They have been captured on their journey to becoming indistinct trash. At the moment of their capture, they still looked like what they used to be, but moments after they were photographed, they no longer were anything. Their last breath of life is in these photographs; their only other existence is in the memories of their owners." Andrei Codrescu
About the Author
DAN BURKHOLDER is an acknowledged master of digital fine art photography. His landmark book, Making Digital Negatives for Contact Printing, has become the standard reference. Burkholder has taught at the International Center of Photography (New York), the Royal Photographic Society (Spain), the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Melbourne Royal Institute of Technology (Australia), and Santa Fe Workshops (New Mexico).
ANDREI CODRESCU is the author of New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writings from the City; Wakefield, a novel; and it was today: new poems. He has also written extensively about photography, including two essays on Walker Evans published by the Getty Museum. A regular commentator on NPR's “All Things Considered,” Andrei Codrescu lives in New Orleans and teaches at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He also serves as editor of the literary journal Exquisite Corpse.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In his Introduction, Burkholder says he was teaching photography in Montana when the hurricane struck. Like everyone else in the country, he watched the television images of the destruction but noticed that all the focus was on the outside world: cars in trees, the breached levees, houses smashed into other houses. Hardly anything he saw showed what the interiors of those houses looked like, or how individual lives had been intimately affected. What about the books? the baby pictures? clothes? family heirlooms? the accouterment of ordinary, everyday life? How had all of those things weathered the storm?
Burkholder took his camera and made a pilgrimage to New Orleans several weeks after the storm and the floods had done their damage. What he found was overwhelming. The way he chose to photograph it, using the high dynamic digital technique, produced remarkably sharp, oddly beautiful images that reach out with intense emotional impact.
The first thing you notice is the mold at work. Not just on the walls, but in unexpected places: on the mini blinds in a sewing room; on children's artwork in a kindergarten glass; on the stained glass windows of a church; on the towels and toilet seat in a invalid's bathroom. Dried mud, like cracked plates, covers floors. Peeling wallpaper give a ghoulishness to a pink living room. Sloughing paint transforms a laundry room into a haunted house.
What makes these photographs special is the HDR method. It is a way of capturing scenes with extremely high contrast ratios between light and dark. The effect is that details defused in traditional photographs, because of a glaring light through a window for instance, are made specific and clear. Instead of monochromatic mold on mold or mud on mud, vibrant color bursts almost shockingly through the deadened destruction.
I appreciate these photographs. They tell a different story than the television and magazine pictures we all have grown weary of seeing. Burkholder's visually enticing images in some ways more poignantly magnify the suffering and personal loss from Katrina. I like that he only gives a title to each shot rather than providing caption text. He seems to be asking that we let the photographs speak for themselves. And they do. With an affecting honestly that quite literally trumps any newscast or documentary photographic essay that you have seen so far.
These picures seem at first to make destruction beautiful. Then you look more closely and you can easily imagine what these locations once looked like. In a way, it reminds me of the Buddist monks who make the beautiful sand sculptures only to destroy them. The book absolutely earns its evocative title.
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