Churning Back to Art

I started the blogging project off with a blog post about artwork, particularly Steve Prince’s “Katrina’s Veil: Stand at the Gretna Bridge” and Francisco Goya’s “Third of May 1808.” I thought that I would churn back to artwork for my last blog post, in the interest of hurricanes, of course. I found one contemporary New Orleans artist, Azucena Romá, who has one particular project I found very relatable to our course concepts. The project is called “Live, Love, Die” and it’s a series of art installations that Romá places around the city of New Orleans. What’s interesting about these installations is that all of them are made with colored sawdust; in other words, all of the pieces are ephemeral and will blow away over time. There are three total pieces in the project, one for each word of the project title (live, love, and die), they are all brightly colored, and each one is placed in a specific location. The “Live” piece is placed in front of the Tree of Life in Audubon Park, NOLA, the “Love” piece is placed in front of Lee Circle, and the “Die” piece is placed in front of a cemetery.

I think Romá’s work is particularly pertinent to our course concepts because the piece is inherently an exercise in remembering, forgetting, and waste. Romá places the art where many people can see it and eventually it will blow away; this begs the questions, “who will remember them?” and “will they be remembered at all or will they be forgotten?” The art itself is simultaneously remembered and forgotten as some people see the pieces and remember their bright colors, others see and forget, and still others don’t get to see the pieces at all before they are a product of the wind.

With regard to waste, some would probably argue that Romá’s art is a waste of sawdust and color. Why would an “artist” spend all of their time making a piece that is ultimately going to be blown away? Well, I would argue that it first shows how subtle the difference between life and death. This is something that we have seen throughout our time in 432, through Levees, The Day After Tomorrow, Unfathomable City, Blood Dazzler, and the rest of our texts. After Katrina, many lives were taken but, also, the government’s lack of adequate response to the storm put many people in limbo between life and death. If someone loses their family, is separated from their family, doesn’t have medication, etc. where is the boundary between life and death for them, from their own perspective? The second thing the art installation brings up is how society, individual people, etc. easily try to manipulate love to no avail. While the “love” installation is easily blown away, this is one instance where art doesn’t imitate life. For example, even after Katrina, many people still loved their city even though it is a reminder of tragedy. Romá is trying to show that, even though this art piece can be blown away, real love isn’t so fickle and easily manipulated. From one perspective, waste to be forgotten, from another, a message to remember.

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