01.28.11

New Orleans' Hidden Violence

They look like typical street corners and parking lots, but Deborah Luster’s haunting new photographs reveal the unpitying areas where murders occurred in New Orleans.

Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish is a large series of photos by the photographer Deborah Luster, and now on view at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. The images, printed huge or bound into deluxe scrapbooks, record the sites where murders have occurred in New Orleans. And more than anything, they demolish the pathetic fallacy—that the world weeps as we do. These cityscapes show no care at all that people died in them; they barely even show traces of the murder.

One interesting wrinkle: Luster’s images are circles because they record the entire field of view her lens has taken in. (All lenses project circles; most cameras cut a square or rectangular image out of the middle of the optical pie.) It’s as though Luster is insisting that she’s not hiding a thing—and still not revealing much, either.

Gallery: Photos by Deborah Luster

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Blake Gopnik writes about art and design for Newsweek magazine. In 1995 Gopnik became the editor of Insite, one of Canada’s leading magazines on architecture and design, and then fine-arts editor, and finally art critic, at the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. In 2001, he was hired as the chief art critic of the Washington Post, where he spent the following decade writing about art and other aesthetic topics including design and gastronomy.