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New York Cool - Arts

January 4 – February 9, 2007
7am-11pm daily
World Financial Center
Liberty Street Bridge

Written by Eve Hyman
Photographed by Warren Lee

Close to twenty thousand people walk across the World Financial Center’s Liberty Bridge every day. World Financial Center workers and tourists looking for a view of Ground Zero may be surprised to find dresser drawers lining the bridge in an exhibit called “Floodwall,” a powerful installation that documents the enormous losses suffered by New Orleans residents post Katrina.

“Floodwall” is a collection of six hundred dresser drawers that were left for the trash collectors outside homes in the flood-destroyed neighborhoods of New Orleans. Artist Jana Napoli (a native of New Orleans), found her way to communicate the personal significance of that loss through a collection of private bedroom drawers that she turned into a wall of memory.

”Floodwall” reminds the viewer of the intimacy involved in a tragedy; it is a levee to the memory of the lives of the people whose homes were destroyed in the flood. The drawers are accompanied by interviews (through LED signs) with some of the former owners, who tell stories of their post-Katrina lives. Spectators can look at the drawers while simultaneously looking out onto the space that was the Twin Towers. It is a juxtaposition of tragedies and honors the losses suffered by two vital centers of American life.

A friend who attended the exhibit with me grew up in New Orleans. She met Jana and thanked her for her work. She started to tell the artist what it meant to her but choked up with emotion. Jana Napoli interrupted her with hug. It was good to feel a bit of Southern comfort on Liberty Bridge and to think my friend and I might be another step closer toward healing from the tragedy of post-Katrina New Orleans.

“Floodwall” reminds the viewer of the intimacy involved in a tragedy. It connects spectator with victim and enables sharing which in turn promotes healing. The exhibit gives a view of the inside of the city and how it was to be one person suffering loss. It emphasizes that that each individual loss was in itself terrible
and not diminished by the fact that it was multiplied throughout neighborhoods. One lost drawer is a symbol of the family that stored letters, lingerie, and pieces of their life. A wall of those drawers is a symbol of Katrina.

“Floodwall” runs January 4 – February 9, 2007 (7am-11pm daily) at the World Financial Center - Liberty Street Bridge New York, New York (Enter at One World Financial Center, corner of Liberty Street and South End Avenue).

For more information visit www.floodwall.org


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