"The secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is--to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius!"
Louisiana is the fastest-disappearing landmass on earth. New Orleans could become Atlantis in my lifetime. This knowledge tends to provoke feelings of helplessness or calls to activism. This project has little to do with either. These photographs are about how profoundly the specter of death can enhance the experience of life. When the doctor gives you three months to live, it completely changes your perspective.
My acute awareness of the region's endangerment has imbued daily life with animistic magic. Quotidian objects appear radiant. Passers-by in the street seem like mythical characters. Symbolism's everywhere, haunting everything. Post-Katrina Louisiana feels like Pompeii both before and after the volcano blew. As a narrator, I'm like the lovechild of Don Quixote and Chicken Little. Instead of hysterical fear that the sky is falling, I'm preoccupied with sea rise. I see premonitions of impending disaster everywhere, like Freudian slips of the city's collective unconscious.
Despite its predicament, the collective consciousness of the city remains celebratory. This other side of the coin is epitomized by secondlines, the musical parades that overtake the city's streets every Sunday afternoon. In spite of racial and economic marginalization, the highest murder rate in the country, the lingering effects of the hurricane, people come together in a spirit of ecstatic celebration unlike anywhere else in the US. Secondlines themselves grew out of the jazz funeral parading tradition. Death gives way to life.