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The Making of "KATRINA FRIDGES" (2007)

Based on a true story about Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of the widespread devastation, as part of the recovery and clean-up efforts, returning residents were forced to throw out their refrigerators, which became highly toxic.  A power outage lasting weeks and months after the initial event and evacuations caused all the food to be spoiled and deadly to human health. Over 300,000 of these fridges were left on city streets to be picked up for disposal. Residents were advised to duck-tape the fridges. City and government personnel and officials were overwhelmed and struggled to deal with the widespread destruction. During the slow and painful recovery efforts, the fridges remained on the streets for weeks and months. In the absence of reliable telephone or internet service, and a population suffering individual and collective trauma- these fridges became message boards- personal, political, artistic- with most carrying the vestiges of pre-Katrina family life. (Fridge magnets, postcards, photos, inspirational quotes, recipes, etc. ) In a way, the fridges and the messages written on them expressed the voice of the people. Below are a number of real world documentary examples.

 
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A temporary collection site for the over 300,00 refrigerators disposed of in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

A temporary collection site for the over 300,00 refrigerators disposed of in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

 
"Heck of a Job Brownie" .

"Heck of a Job Brownie" .

"Don't fuckin' open. The smell will Kill you! I'm serious bra."... "Cat Lovers Are PURRFECT!... "I don't understand what you are trying to say!" ... Somebody drew 'hearts' on the fridge. Others made responses with arrows to the initial 'posts'.

"Don't fuckin' open. The smell will Kill you! I'm serious bra."... "Cat Lovers Are PURRFECT!... "I don't understand what you are trying to say!" ... Somebody drew 'hearts' on the fridge. Others made responses with arrows to the initial 'posts'.

"I will shoot looters" - 'Dr. Bob'

"I will shoot looters" - 'Dr. Bob'

Fridges were still on the street for Halloween.   

Fridges were still on the street for Halloween.

 

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Thousands of fridges collected from the streets of New Orleans.

Thousands of fridges collected from the streets of New Orleans.

"HOMECOMIN QUEEN '53"

"HOMECOMIN QUEEN '53"

"Where's my Mommy?" "How much for 1 rib?" "Last I seen her she be here- Super Dome". (somewhere in the French Quarter?)

"Where's my Mommy?" "How much for 1 rib?" "Last I seen her she be here- Super Dome". (somewhere in the French Quarter?)

"Condo Voodoo Today Here Now 5"

"Condo Voodoo Today Here Now 5"

Found on a fridge. August 23, 2005 "God takes away only as many of our fears as we give to Him".

Found on a fridge. August 23, 2005 "God takes away only as many of our fears as we give to Him".

A prolific tagger wrote "Voodoo Today Here Now 5" on hundreds if not thousands of fridges all over New Orleans. Later it became "Condo Voodoo Today Here Now 5". Ubiquitous, yet cryptic.

A prolific tagger wrote "Voodoo Today Here Now 5" on hundreds if not thousands of fridges all over New Orleans. Later it became "Condo Voodoo Today Here Now 5". Ubiquitous, yet cryptic.

The N.Y.P.D assisted in the recovery. Their efforts were very much appreciated by local residents. Many fridges had "I 'heart' NYPD." written on them.

The N.Y.P.D assisted in the recovery. Their efforts were very much appreciated by local residents. Many fridges had "I 'heart' NYPD." written on them.

"I was here at 5 where were U?"   

"I was here at 5 where were U?"

 

"4 W" "You've done a great job, Brownie"

"4 W" "You've done a great job, Brownie"

Family photos remain on the fridge, along with other household detritus including stuffed toys and destroyed VHS tapes.   

Family photos remain on the fridge, along with other household detritus including stuffed toys and destroyed VHS tapes.

 

Fridges still up for Christmas 2005, 4 months after Katrina.

Fridges still up for Christmas 2005, 4 months after Katrina.

PART 2

 
I bought 5 old fridges from a scrap dealer and faithfully decorated them, true to the actual documentary photos. I used some creative licence and added a couple secret personal touches.   

I bought 5 old fridges from a scrap dealer and faithfully decorated them, true to the actual documentary photos. I used some creative licence and added a couple secret personal touches.

 

The final work after some Photoshopping.

The final work after some Photoshopping.

At Jane Corkin Gallery for "Freedom 35" solo exhibition. I gave an 'artist talk' to a group of visitors from New Orleans who readily identified with the picture, based on their own experiences.  Another picture in the show was about Wayne Gretzky, they had no idea who he was.

At Jane Corkin Gallery for "Freedom 35" solo exhibition. I gave an 'artist talk' to a group of visitors from New Orleans who readily identified with the picture, based on their own experiences.  Another picture in the show was about Wayne Gretzky, they had no idea who he was.

   http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/decor/why-the-dining-area-is-this-professional-foodies-favourite-room/article20879789/

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/decor/why-the-dining-area-is-this-professional-foodies-favourite-room/article20879789/