Floodwall: Art Exhibition of Jana Napoli in Berlin

”Drawers Speak - New Orleans Five Years Later”

(Berlin; September 10th - October 15th, 2010)

A History of the Floodwall Exhibition

The Floodwall exhibition has travelled across the United States and around the World since it was first exhibited in 2007.

Floodwall was first revealed in New York City in 2007, where the drawers lined the World Financial Center’s Liberty Bridge. Located so close to Ground Zero, Floodwall was immediately hailed as presenting a powerful and emotive reminder of the recent tragedies that have occurred on American soil. As New York Cool magazine wrote, “it is a juxtaposition of tragedies and honors the losses suffered by two vital centers of American life” (New York Cool, 2007). Interviews with the previous owners of the drawers, who told stories about their post-Katrina lives, accompanied the exhibit in the form of LED signs.

Floodwall then moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where it was put on place at the Louisiana State Museum. Jed Horne, author of “Breach of Faith”, described the exhibit as “600 drawers that … are relics of 600 households, 600 histories and many more human lives”. Returning to exhibit in a still devastated Louisiana was particularly emotive, and allowed in some cases the previous owners of the drawers to experience Floodwall for themselves.

The exhibit then continued its tour of the US, to Austin and Cincinnati, before it left the country in early 2009 and travelled to Bremerhaven, Germany. Here it formed part of the exhibition “The Flight after the Flood. New Orleans – the City Left Behind” at the German Emigration Centre. The exhibition was a massive success, and helped to raise international awareness about the scale of the disaster and reconstruction process in New Orleans.

Late in 2009, Floodwall returned to the US to form the centerpiece of the “Previously on Piety” exhibition, in honor of post-Katrina art, in the Contemporary Arts Centre in New Orleans. Along with other pieces such as Gerard Caliste’s “Walking on Water”, Rontherin Ratliff’s “Rooted”, Rondell Crier’s “On the Streets”, and Jan Gilbert’s “Biography of a House”, this exhibition was a poignant reminder of the “great creative explosion that came after the storm and flood, when artists provided a catharsis for the fear, anger and hopefulness of the moment” (Nola News, 2009).

This year, Floodwall has once again returned to Europe. Starting in Wroclaw, Poland in July, Floodwall has been successful in publicizing the tragedy of New Orleans, as well as celebrating the strength, courage and determination of its inhabitants. Floodwall has now moved from Wroclaw to Berlin, where the US Embassy and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy are excited to welcome you to visit this extraordinary exhibition for yourself, opening on September 10th and remaining in the city until October 15th.