City of Memory: New Orleans Before and After Katrina
By John Woodin
Greenfield Open Stacks 976.335064 W858c 2009
UArts photography professor John Woodin’s images of New Orleans are simultaneously architectural studies and memorials of social and economic loss. As a native of the city, Woodin had objectively photographed New Orleans’ homes in 2004, depicting the cultural history of the people as well as their poverty.
Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in August of 2005. In October, when residents were allowed back into the city, Woodin was there, first to help his mother comb through the wreckage of his childhood home. He then returned to each home he’d photographed in 2004 and documented the change brought by the storm – and by the lack of government aid. In some photos, the destruction is obvious, but in others, it’s subtle, often just the search and rescue teams’ painted indicators that the home was searched and how many bodies, if any, were found.
City of Memory is at once a book of excellent photographs that show Woodin’s attention to detail and his formal, clean style. But it is also an important historical document that will remind viewers of the fragility of life.