This is a guest blog by an old friend of mine – Gilbert Mercier – who has documented much of the national travesty that was and is Katrina – not just the hurricane but also the abject neglect on the part of the federal government. (we hope this to be the first in a long series of guest blogs on various graffiti related topics)
To view some of Gilbert’s Katrina graffiti photos go to our flickr site – they are pretty amazing – more will be uploaded in the coming weeks.
Katrina’s Graffiti by Gilbert Mercier
I split my time between Los Angeles & New Orleans, my house is in Uptown, and most of my Victorian house is rented.
Before Katrina came to town, I made sure all my tenants were evacuated (I was in Toronto at the time), a good friend of mine boarded the house…. Then we just hoped for the best.
Needless to say my level of anxiety and frustration was running high. I came back to NOLA as soon as “ they” reopened the town from the lockdown (a little bit before in fact) to find a war zone atmosphere.
My house had very little damage…. I decided to do a proper and detail photo essay to illustrate the incredible failure and incompetence at all government levels (local, state and mainly federal) of the handling of a disaster that was mostly man made to start with.
All the words on walls specially fascinated me as an expression of so much pain and anger.
Three very different kinds of graffiti quickly appeared in New Orleans after Katrina.
The 1st one; sinister and somewhat cryptic in nature, made by rescue personals (firemen, national guard, police etc) in all the flooded areas consisting of bright colors spray paint marking with the date of the inspection and sometime a grim message such as: “ Gas leak”, “ dead dog under house” or even worse “ 1 dead in attic”.
The 2nd one: Mainly written words, either short poems of desperation, fear and anger (“ Help”, “ seek god”) or political statements (the Karmangia “ Fema wagon” with “ fuck Bush “ sprayed on it). A great deal of graffiti on all the “ Fridge of Katrina” (“ Got FEMA?”).
The 3rd one were on boarded store fronts for potential looters to be seen; “ I am here, I have a Gun”, the photo of the burly Vietnam vet standing proudly in front of his symptoms of paranoia “ trespassers are looters and will be shot DEAD” or the slightly insane and comical one” I have two shot guns, a claw hammer, an ugly woman and a big dog”
All this “writing on the walls” express the surreal nightmare that New Orleans went through after Katrina.
To view additional photographs by Gilbert Mercier go to www.digitalrailroad.net/Mercier
I do encourage people to donate whatever they can to Habitat for Humanity, New-Orleans still needs a lot of help in the rebuilding process.