Rebuilding the 9th Ward
In October 2006, a little more than a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, students in Cornell University’s Department of City and Regional Planning conducted over 200 resident surveys to develop a participatory comprehensive plan for the 9th Ward, one of the most severely damaged districts in the city. Other students and I were especially touched by the stories that we were told. There was an overwhelming resonance in what people felt they needed to tell us, much of which did not fit within the rubric of a quick and empirical survey. In the beginning of the spring semester, I conducted follow-up interviews in an attempt to capture some of these stories. Between March 17 and 27, 2007, I interviewed 18 residents with the help of Ben Phelps-Rohrs, who assisted me with audio recording and editing. Our aim was to respectfully document residents’ personal narratives of struggle, resilience and rebuilding.
This exhibit pairs audio recordings of the interviews with photographic portraits, which I see as inextricably linked. I worked with residents to create collaborative portraits that tell stories about their experiences with Katrina. I asked them to show me an object or space around their home that reminded them of their experience during or since the storm, or something they were able to save. Some of these stories are also included in the recordings.
This project was supported by the Cornell Council for the Arts, the Arch Winter Fellowship for the Study of Southern Cities, the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, and the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) at Cornell University.
This project is best viewed as a multimedia slideshow which is embedded below (thanks to AAP for developing this Flash site). For a direct link, please click here. A podcast of the interviews may be downloaded from Cornell's AAP Podcast site. Another version of this project may be found in Triple Canopy's NOLA Issue.
var _gaq = _gaq || ;
ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script'); s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);