“Tooth For An Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish” – Deborah Luster

“Tooth For An Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish”

partially charred
on Piety
between two vacant houses
the smell of sweet olive
near the corner of Amelia
in the neighborhood of Desire
[ that was Jody]
the light there has an aura
so strong
—   c .d. wright

With a homicide rate nearly eight times the national average, New Orleans stands today, as it did as far back as the s, as the homicide capital of the United States.For many years, civil rights attorney, Mary Howell, promoted the idea of placing a cast iron memorial plaque at the location of each of the city’s homicides. She abandoned her idea the day she visualized a New Orleans of the future buried beneath memorial plaques and sinking under the weight of memory.

“Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish” is a project that attempts to take a very close look at something that no longer exists—an invisible population—in the only way in which one can approach such things, obliquely and through reference. The result is a photographic archive documenting contemporary and historical homicide sites in the city of New Orleans and is, as well, an exploration of the empty, dizzying space at the core of violence. Chorography is a form of geography that describes the inherent attributes of a place. These attributes may be physical, sociological, conceptual, metaphysical, or sensory. “Tooth for an Eye…” not only documents sites where violence has occurred, it also finds itself documenting the city’s physical loss as her unique material culture crumbles and transforms following generations of political failure..

In the atavistic culture of New Orleans, so alive with the historic, symbolic, and sensual, there exists a porousness between the worlds of the living and the dead, where time bends and flows, and neither world lives or dies free of the other’s space or influence.

See more: DeborahLuster.com

Deborah Luster is best known for her installation archive series One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana and Tooth for an Eye A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish. For One Big Self, Luster photographed for six years in Louisiana’s prison system, including the state’s maximum-security prison at Angola. Tooth for an Eye documents homicide locations in the nation’s homicide capital, New Orleans. (Monographs of both projects are published by Twin Palms Publishers.)Her work is included in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Her awards include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, an Anonymous Was a Woman Award, the John Guttman Award and a Bucksbaum Family Award of American Photography. She is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery.


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