Just wondering what people were thinking about the recent spate of anniversary of Katrina photo shows. I saw two today. I had to go outside and cry for a while after the second one. It was just more slime, mold, soggy books, and wrecked furniture and houses, but as it all adds up, it sort of grinds you down. I photographed my partner's father's wrecked house last fall, and these photographs were so much the same, and the exact patterns that the slime made on things was so identical, that it brought back the whole experience of the loss of his childhood home, and it multiplied it by the thousands of similar homes and losses. I could handle photographing ONE wrecked house, but seeing more and more photographs of more and more wrecked and ruined houses, family photographs, clothes, beds, chairs, etc is sort of overwhelming. But at least I only photographed MY family's disaster. I didn't go in anybody else's house uninvited. I heard somebody say (maybe Brooks Jensen?) that it seemed wrong somehow to go into the home of somebody you don't know and photograph the wreckage, when they're not there and can't give you permission. It seems as if there was a certain amount of ambulance-chasing going on in the immediate aftermath. One of the shows I saw today was by a guy from PA who just dropped everything and flew down to NOLA to photograph the devastation. He was not a photojournalist, not from NOLA, not even from the South, and the photographs were not meant to be journalism, published in a magazine or newspaper. They were supposed to be Art and they were in a Gallery. Somehow this sort of rubbed me the wrong way, although the photographs were good. It was just that it seemed exploitative, to further your own career using the misfortune of other people. (I think part of the sales went to Habitat, so maybe that made it a little less exploitative.) On the other hand, I saw another show about Katrina that I thought was just right, by Thomas Neff. It was photographs of people, with written stories about what happened to them during and after the flood, and how they survived, and how they were doing a year later. It seemed more homegrown, and maybe that's why it didn't seem exploitative. It seemed as if the photographer knew the people and their stories and names, and he was telling their story for them, with their help. There does seem to be a demand for pictures of disasters, and of abjectly poor people. Why? In the context of news, maybe this makes sense. But I'm not sure it makes sense in a gallery. It just seems to encourage a sort of bourgeois voyeurism that makes me uncomfortable.