By Sigal Ben David
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, I visited the city. much to my surprise, big part of the city seemed intact as if nothing happened. Yet the media painted a different picture, which got me wondering where the truth really lies. On my return home, I looked into visual and theoretical material, such as news media footage, documentary film, art works and articles, in order to try and understand New Orleans Post Katrina. which led me back to a second visit, deeper into the neighborhoods of New Orleans. My third visit was a year and a half after the hurricane, and I came fully prepared, cameras in hand.
Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of North America.
Katrina originated in the Bahamas on August 23, 2005 and moved rapidly over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. On August 28, shortly after the hurricane reached category 5 storm, The Mayor of New Orleans ordered the first ever mandatory evacuation of the city. On the morning of August 29 Katrina hit New Orleans. Katrina’s flooded 80% of New Orleans, which caused severe and severe damage.
In the aftermath, thousands of people were left homeless. As of July 2006, thousands of people still remained without homes and many others whom were forced to flee the city during the hurricane, never returned.
On February 2007, I wandered through New Orleans. The streets were still scattered with debris, homes still deserted, left as they were the day they were abandoned. I found the dissonance of chaos and the exposure of intimate living quarters both aesthetic and disturbing. While walking on a thin line, between documentary and art, I worked with both my digital camera and 35 mm black and white film. I was met with many challenges, for example: rotten and shaky floors, blocked entrances, debris and darkness, along with the psychological aspect of walking into someone’s home. These challenges made me more aware of my surroundings, as subtle as a martini glass left in place or as striking as the natural light falling on a bed.
Light plays an essential part in my photography where I work mainly with natural light. The seasonal weather in New Orleans gave me a chance to use soft light with deep tones. In some homes the darkness forced me to use a tripod enabling long exposures, which I preferred to artificial lighting.
It was an intense week, from morning till night, both physically and emotionally.
Back at my studio in Tel Aviv, I had a huge amount of material to look through, contemplate and sort out. I had to find images that work individually and together, creating an artistic vision and documenting the story of New Orleans post Katrina.
Sigal Ben david, I was born in Israel in 1973. recently graduated from Camera Obscura, school of art, in Tel Aviv.
Some of my works have been published in “At” Fashion magazine (February 2009) and in “Bait Ve Noy” Architecture and design magazine (November-December 2008)
I currently live and work in Tel Aviv, Israel.
My work can be seen at – www.behance.net/SigalBendavid