Wednesday, March 07, 2007

William Greiner - New Orleans & Baton Rouge

A while back, when I posted about some of the "controversy" around photographers travelling down to photograph post-Katrina, I got an email from William Greiner. I looked at his blog and something struck a chord but I couldn't quite catch hold of it. Later it came back to me and I tracked down his website.

I had looked as some of his pictures in an early copy of Doubtake magazine and hunted down one of his books (A New Life?) a few years ago and then lost track of his work when I was doing my own research into the important colour photographers - Shore Eggleston, Sternfeld, Graham etc.. and William Greiner.

Greiner's home was New Orleans until Katrina struck. At that point he moved with his family to his Baton Rouge where his wife comes from. And in the year or so since, William has been trying to make sense of all this both through his photography, and also through his blog - at times heartfelt, at times angry. There is a sense of exile and loss in it all, as well as strength and clear perception.

Greiner has just published some of his post-Katrina work "Baton Rouge Blues":

"Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, with New Orleans its most famous victim. Everyone who lived through that storm has vivid memories of that experience. For William Greiner, who was forced to move away from New Orleansand chose to live in Baton Rouge, the storm triggered a pilgrimage of sorts. He has assembled a group of his photographs in a tribute to the unmemorable, the commonplace and the banal. With a humorous and often bittersweet quality, his pictures are a record of the inconsequential that now lingers and haunts our feelings about things now gone...

The main exhibition of photos from New Orleans does not deal with dramatic views of destruction or calamitous evocations of devastation. What we see is a range of pictures that start a recall process. The mundane, the ordinary and the unremarkable become an almost unbearable part of our consciousness...

There is something fleetingly memorable about garishly excruciating bad taste. Greiner captures the irony and the humor of determined declarations about people saying to the world, "I am here, this is me." None of these photographs includes people, yet Greiner's photos are notations of life. They are fragments that give determined evidence of place and time."
I'm not sure if the pictures I've picked from his blog are the ones he chose for the booklet (and some of them I chose from his earlier work). As well, it's well worth looking at his entrancing colour work pre-Katrina, to put it all in context

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