Discussion Topic: Rooms from Versailles to post-Katrina New Orleans

Robert Polidori photographing in India

Explore the works of Robert Polidori, who uses a large-format camera to capture environments that range from the French palace of Versailles to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina or the nuclear accident at Chernobyl.  Polidori has been criticized for the absence of people in his photographs.  Do you think his photographs aestheticize the settings of catastrophe?  Or do you think they are powerful statements of unique events?

Read a recent interview with Robert Polidori here

Explore Polidori’s photographs at Edwynn Houk Gallery’s website

Please post your responses by Tuesday, April 2nd.  Please note: due to the upcoming spring recess, you have THREE weeks to post on this discussion topic

See instructions on how to “post” under “Blogging Guidelines” above.

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2 Responses to Discussion Topic: Rooms from Versailles to post-Katrina New Orleans

  1. sreyes says:

    I believe that Polidori is making powerful statements about unique events. There is no way you can actually make such a horrid event look beautiful with just a camera. There is also no way that an event like Hurricane Katrina that destroyed pretty much the entire gulf coast and left New Orleans grasping for dear life can be made to be a pretty picture. There were stagnant waters and the smell of decomposing materials in the air. Polidori said himself “I try to aestheticize upon historic events. I think of the Katrina incident as the historical backdrop where I illustrate myriad different examples of what exoskeleton violation looks like. Each portrait is like an exploded cadaver diagram. It’s what is left of somebody’s nest.” But can beauty come from anything that is seen as ugly through other’s eyes? By the same token, making beauty come from photographs that would otherwise be deemed as ugly is an amazing thing and photographers are born with this passion to do such things even in the worst of conditions.

  2. Beatriceh7 says:

    I viewed the photographs taken by Robert Polidori and I do see the controversies with them that people had. I am unsure of what Polidori is trying to achieve in taking these photos. I don’t know whether he is trying to show us the level of damage or making it look like a tourist attraction. The photos of water damaged homes and toxic eroded places look more like ruins that people must visit rather than reflecting the horrors of that time period. The absence of people in these photographs takes away the effect of the catastrophes. I imagine that these photographs matched with people would be better because the emotion in their faces would reflect and emphasize the destruction. Emotions are universal. It is easy to tell what someone is feeling just by their facial expressions. Without people in photographs, there is an absence of emotion and leaves the viewer slightly confused. When I was looking at the Hurricane Katrina photographs, there was a lot of damage and we know how horrifying that period was for the people in New Orleans because of media and coverage. The downside of these photographs by Polidori is that if you show them to children who were born after the hurricane, they won’t really understand what they are looking at and probably won’t empathize too much because they do not see faces.

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