DPR7: Cultures in Resistance

The 7th Conference of the Discourse, Power, Resistance Series

18– 20 March 2008
Manchester Metropolitan University , UK


Lori Kent
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, USA

Emerging Resistance: New Orleans Psychogeography as constructed through Memory-based Visual Arts

Two years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans struggles toward a sense of normalcy that is yet to return. Resident artists remain and visiting artists find a temporary home. They seek to reconstruct this unique American culture through memory-based art and performance. Projects such as The Vestiges Project, Home? New Orleans, Lakeviews and Chan’s Waiting for Godot are collaborations that seek to acknowledge the power of memory and the extent of loss. These are acts of resistance against superficial media interpretations of civic and cultural reconstruction. Overall, a deluge of ideas fill formerly flooded spaces and encourage a sense of healing and community redefinition.

This paper overviews the creative responses to the storm, the effects of disaster Capitalism, and the emerging psychogeography of the city. Historically, many elements shaped New Orleans. Sited on fragile, reclaimed ground, the city mostly overcame heat, humidity, disease and ignorance to offer unique vernacular music, food and architecture. The conflicting spirits of eccentricity, despair and carnival permeate the psychogeography making streets storytellers and wrecked homes witness to a full range of human experience. It can be said that there is an artistic renaissance based on resistance. Out of the destruction, visual and performing arts resonate with bittersweet positivism.