artist's statement

Thank heavens!

New Orleans has not yet been captured by the tedious, dull, bland, politically correct, puritanical, Stepford-style perfection to which so many elsewhere now seem to aspire.

When we started this project, our aim was to capture the spirit of New Orleans as seen through its people and its unique architectural landscape. The easy trap is to define New Orleans by its music, its food, its architecture, its art, its decay, Mardi Gras, the ingrained political ineptitude and, yes, even by its violent fringes. But these things do not create New Orleans. New Orleans has created them. They are merely the mirrors through which the spirit of the city is reflected back at us.

Over its long history - as today - New Orleans is defined by its people and the unique social gumbo that they create. In compiling this work, I have sought to create a portrait of a city through a series of images of the people who live there and the buildings or spaces with which they are associated.

Much of my previous work has focused on a different kind of portraiture - that of endangered animals. In doing that work, I had not the least interest in portraying what the individual animal looked like. Rather my interest was in exploring what that animal is - or could possibly be. What could it feel like to be that animal?

Likewise, in this work the aim is to create a sense, a sensation even, of what one of America's most intriguing and seductive cities feels like. I hope that this may give the viewer an awareness of the city that is different to that created by the documentation of physical structures and public festivals.

The aim of this project is the eventual publication of a book. Until then, this site will provide an experience that is almost exclusively visual. Freed from the inevitable explanations and interpretations contained in a book, this site will hopefully allow the viewer more freedom to roam, imagine and conceive; to build his or her own notion of the city and its people, unburdened by others' views and biases.

New Orleans is a state of mind. Long may it survive the onslaught of the Culture of Plain Vanilla that may threaten to add this unique character to the endangered species list.

Joe Zammit-Lucia