“Notes on the Emptying of a City” is a performance that acts as a dismantled film, where a narrator pieces together the sounds, images, and storytelling of a documentary about Hurricane Katrina before a live audience. Exploring the first-person politics of being in New Orleans with a camera and microphone in the months following the storm, it recounts Hunt’s engagement with community activists while researching the city’s refusal to evacuate the Orleans Parish Prison, raising themes of architecture, cameras, and visibility; and the powers of speech, silence, art, and journalism in a moment of crisis. Set up as a slide lecture, a narrator sits at a desk before an audience, with papers and a laptop computer connected to a projector. Between meditations on his own experience he cues testimonies—videos of a citizen, a neighbor, an organizer, and others—each one drawn from the archive of material compiled during his visits. Together, the artist’s narration, still images, and videos weave into a montage that offers a larger testimony on disaster, race, law, speech, and witnessing at a time when the urgency of Katrina’s crisis seems to have receded into a comfortable past.
Co-presented by the Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture at Bard College.