September 25, 2005

Your Turn: In The Ruins


“You don’t really think about the situation rationally at such an overwhelming time, of course.  If it’s home, elegiac competes with angry for emotional first place.”

I’ve been holding on to this illustration, and have been continuing to look at it for about two weeks.  What’s been particularly strange is that, as soon as I go to post it, the situation in New Orleans takes another turn resulting in a fundamentally different way of relating to the image.

If you’ll indulgence a moment of introspection, it seems that the BAG has been all over the map recently.  It’s a delicate balance, but it seems like my emphasis has been a little too much on the politics lately, at the expense of the images.  Lost in that mix, specifically, have been those satisfying opportunities (for both of us) where I pull back and let you take over the analysis.  My sense is, with all the emotions stirred by a month of disaster — many of them fed by instance after instance in which Bush has revealed himself to be as unqualified and phony as we’ve known all along — a lot of us are feeling just a little poisonous.

The quote above is from a beautiful piece in this New Yorker issue by Nicholas Lemann.  The reason I’m drawn to it is because of how powerfully and sweetly it expresses the relationship to place, the complexity of loss, and the marvelous, but less than logical poetry of one of our “most profoundly American” cities.

If you can, read Lemann’s piece, In The Ruins, before you react to the image.  I tried very hard (with mixed results) to accurately reproduce this cover.  What I most wanted to capture was the lightness of the sky in the middle of this rain.  You know, it can come down like crazy in that town, but apparently, there’s a large part of the place that could never get wet.

By the way, the name of the watercolor is also very nice.  It’s called “Requiem” by Ana Juan.

Tell me what you see.

(illustration: Ana Juan.  New Yorker Magazine. September 12, 2005.  Cover)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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