Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hurricane Katrina: the Havoc Caused by Profit

Disclaimer: My computer is ill, so all of these images are massive, and terribly uncropped. Also, This first set of pictures solidifies how terrible indoor lighting is; in reality this pievce has a stark white/black contrast, not a light grey/black.

The is a 4 x 8 foot foamcut depicting a scene that occured soon after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. This particular paragraph is the seed of this piece:"Gordon Russell of the New Orleans Times-Picayune noted pointedly that these hellish conditions “stood in stark contrast to those of people nearby in the restricted-access New Orleans Centre and Hyatt Hotel, where those who could get in lounged in relative comfort.” A line of state police armed with assault rifles drove the crowds of homeless refugees back from the entrance to the facility.Russell continued, “A few blocks farther away, guests were being fed ‘foie gras and rack of lamb’ for dinner, according to a photographer who stayed there, while the masses, most of them poor, huddled in the Dome.”

With that paragraph as a basis, I spent weeks researching this contrast and came up with this composition. The scene, visually, is entirely fictional, because through even university search engines and libraries I have found no journalistic documentation of the New Orlean's elite gathered in these two hotels. To fill in the gap, I created this table scene of the Hyatt hotel which provided ample space to include all the elements I needed. The people at the table are all based off of ulti-millionaires and billionaires, as I was unable to find decent pictures of the Bring New Orleans Back commission.

Even so, those around the table to me are a combination of the New Orleans elite who stayed in the Hyatt hotel (I chose this one of the two) and the Bring New Orleans Back commision. Afterall, the commission is made up of that same elite. The goals of the ruling class, both of New Orleans, and nationwide (even worldwide) are shown through the various documentation lying around the scene. For example, a few men have been presented with a blueprint for a Bank One financial tower, and a projector presention states the factual outline of the rebuilding plans. These plans are, of course, based entirely around profit, which is the same factor that caused Hurricane Katrina to result in such unprecidented death and destruction.

This hopefully shows the contradiction between these two worlds divided by class. While these folks sip their wine, discuss thier plans, and relax in comfort, their massive wealth is precariously protected from masses of people through instruments of repression (police) Oddly, I just not realized this media presentation is another one of those bulwarks against social upheaval. Fortunetly, I did conciously reason this scene, where residents asking for food and care are being stampeded by heavily armed police. Meanwhile, the media slanders them in it's attempts to obscure and justify the hurricane tragedy.

This being my first foamcut, many, many mistakes were made, and inconsistency abounds. The fellow on the right here looks like a George Grosz character.


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