In this video, produced by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, photographer Richard Misrach describes photographing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the book it produced, Destroy This Memory. He describes the area as a “post-apocalyptic movie,” completely devoid of people. After taking over 2,000 pictures with a pocket camera, Misrach discovered a theme through many of the images was the graffiti that people had left on the side of homes, buildings, and cars. Some were messages to loved ones, others angry political statements, but many, were clever, humorous quips which Misrach found inspiring as a testament to people’s resilience.
I decided to photograph in New Orleans after Katrina because I had been watching what was going on for about a month like everybody else just as the whole drama was unfolding. When I was there I made about a thousand 8×10 photographs, and along with the big camera, I took a small pocket camera…and that was just strictly to make notes about where I was, the street signs that were down, maybe places to go back and shoot, I never though I would make serious pictures with that…I photographed the open fire in 1991 and that was a devastated landscape but the scale was radically different. This is the kind of scale where you could drive for days and not see another human being. In front of me, behind me, just destroyed. And no people. –Richard Misrach
To learn more about Misrach’s work, please visit his artist page.