Ashley Mitchell 07/09/09 SWC100

The Reconstruction after Hurricane Bush

Alec Soth’s photographs have a story telling feel to them, you know that it is more than just a picture but has meaning behind it. Soth takes certain material or an object transform and combines them into pictures that can be depicted in a persuasive manner. He tells you his ideas and feelings about a topic and depending on how you look at the picture you can agree or disagree. In his untitled photograph of the bull’s skull with dice, beads and a lanyard hanging from it he brings to your attention how he feels about incidents that occurred during Bush’s presidency.

In this series of Soth’s photographs there are different people in different communities who all seem to be affected by one cause. There are different objects that describe exactly how they were affected. Looking at the background and environment the pictures seem to be fairly recent. Even though there is small amount of specific information, you can tell that he is describing political issues within his collection. In the untitled photo I will be describing there are many signs that he is talking about the Bush administration’s involvement or lack there of in the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. The beads hanging from the bull’s skeleton represents the Mardi gras in New Orleans, the two sets of dice hanging can represent his two terms. All of this was intentional in this picture, and is a very accurate representation of how people were affected by that tragedy.

On August 29, 2005 the levees failed, this tragedy left over 20,000 abandoned and in search for rescue. Many people who were left searched for refuge in The Superdome, but instead had to stay there for days with little to no resources, this not only caused chaos such as looting and riots, but also death. There were reports of rape, fights, drugs, suicide and filthy living conditions. At least 1,800 people died as a result of Hurricane Katrina, but that number is inaccurate because all bodies were not recovered. This photograph really portrays this incident; the beads give location in which the event that he is explaining happened. The dead bull symbolizes how people died. How Soth reconstructs the objects into something that you can use can symbolize the needed reconstruction of the city of New Orleans. Many people compare the tragedy in New Orleans to the Tsunami that happened in Thailand. They compare the reaction of the government. Two similar disasters were handled totally different, our government handled a tragedy that involved non- American people half-way around the world better than they did people who live in their own country. Many questions and accusation were brought upon the government especially directed to Bush. Racial accusations are the most popular. The people who were left abandoned by the Bush administration were predominately black. No matter what the reason for his lack of urgent involvement it still happened. Also in Soth’s photograph intertwined with the hanging beads is a lanyard. During the Hurricane Katrina tragedy along with many deaths, there were even more losses. People lost there homes, businesses, livelihoods, cars, the list can go on and on. The lanyard in the picture does not have any keys; this represents the lack of possessions. Not only did people lose their possessions in Louisiana during the hurricane, but also

during Bush’s two terms. Homes, jobs, families lost during his presidency. The lanyard ties together that Hurricane Katrina is just a small representation of how the Bush administration a ripped through America and destroyed our economy, people, and faith in our country. The same feelings that the citizens of New Orleans felt after the hurricane are the same feeling that many American citizens feel after Bush has been in office. Bush’s presidency has had it successes and its faults; his beginning term was not as bad as his ending one. The dice in the picture signify the change in his terms, how one is black and the other white. One term was fairly good, and the other just went down hill. You can tell that the dice were not just thrown on there for any reason. Nothing in this picture is just thrown there. Every object and where it is placed has a specific meaning. This image says so much about what America had to experience during Bush’s presidency. Through national tragedies and how badly they were handled to present hardships that our country is going through today. The bull skeleton that now serves as something you can hang things from serves as an example that things might be broken and dead and it might seem as if there is no hope. Just like that bull was reconstructed to serve a different purpose and still be useful, so can New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, and so can America after hurricane Bush. Reconstruction may take a while, and needs someone lead it to success, but it is not impossible. It will not be an over night process, and when the process is complete it will not be perfect. But the country will progress, and be made good enough to were are citizens will not feels as though they just went through a natural disaster. One day our country will be rehabilitated and as strong as it once was, and our citizens will have reason to have faith in this country again.