ROBERT POLIDORI :: AFTER THE FLOOD – large format photographs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina


Immediately after Hurricane Katrina wreaked its havoc upon New Orleans, photographer Robert Polidori returned to the city he had inhabited long before, to bear photographic witness to its devastation for The New Yorker.  He ended up staying much longer than he had originally planned, and returned many times to continue capturing images of the city’s abandoned desolation.  One of the world’s premier architectural photographers, Polidori considered the wrecked rooms, collapsed houses, and ravaged neighborhoods on view in After the Flood as metaphors for human fragility. He navigated through the wrecked streets and collapsed, electricity-less, molding houses of the city toting his large-format camera. By virtue of long-exposures under natural light, Polidori produced hundreds of images.

“In each image, the artist seems to have captured the very air of New Orleans, weighted heavily with mold, humidity, and history.”-New Orleans after the Flood: Photographs by Robert Polidori, The Met, April 2006

“All artists, as best they can, make sense of a world that is often senseless. Mr. Polidori’s work, from Chernobyl to Havana — in sometimes dangerous, topsy-turvy, out-of-time places — generally bears witness to profound neglect. A photojournalist’s compulsion and problem is always to contrive beauty from misery, and it is only human to feel uneasy about admiring pictures like these from New Orleans, whose sumptuousness can be disorienting. But the works also express an archaeologist’s aspiration to document plain-spoken truth, and they are without most of the tricks of the trade that photographers exploit to turn victims into objects and pictures of pain into tributes to themselves.” -The New York Times, What’s Wrong With This Picture, Michael Kimmelman, Sept 22, 2006

“Robert Polidori is one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers of human habitats and environments. Creating meticulously detailed, large-format color film photographs, Polidori’s images record a visual citation of both past history and the present times within the confines of a single frame.

Born in Montreal, Polidori moved to the United States as a child. Polidori began his career in avant-garde film, assisting Jonas Mekas at the Anthology Film Archives in New York, an experience that critically shaped his approach to photography. While living in Paris in the early 1980s, he began documenting the restoration of Versailles, and has continued over a 30 year period to photograph the ongoing changes.

Polidori’s additional projects include Havana and the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown. His current work deals with population and urban growth through photographing “dendritic” cities around the world, including Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro and Amman.” – Robert Polidori.com

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