These pictures were taken in the fall of 2006, more than a year after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The title of this exhibit is intended to evoke the words of Louis XV, spoken just a few years before the French Revolution: Apres moi, le deluge (After me, the flood). This phrase has echoed throughout history as an emblem of a government unconcerned with the consequences of its failure. The exhibit aims to raise the question: what are the consequences of governmental failures? What comes after the flood?
From the false promise of the Army Corps of Engineers’ levee system to the ongoing impotence of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, our government has failed to meet its most basic obligations to the citizens of New Orleans. Whether or not you believe that global warming contributed to Katrina’s intensity, there is no denying the role that governmental inaction and misfeasance played in the devastation.
The resulting loss is almost incomprehensible. New Orleans was so many things: the birthplace of jazz, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and Wynton Marsalis; home to Mardi Gras, and Creole and Cajun culture; a collection of unique, vibrant neighborhoods; and for hundreds of thousands of people, home. Now, nearly eighteen months after the storm, fewer than half of New Orleans’ residents have been able to return and most of the city stands in ruins.
For many years, the citizens of New Orleans put their faith in the levee system. As you examine these images, please think about the assurances your government makes you, explicitly and implicitly, and contemplate the consequences of broken promises.
Thanks to the Manjushri Project for its generous support of this project.