More of “Destory the Memory” by Richard Misrach

As a follow-up to my last post, I viewed two more versions of “Destroy the Memory” by Richard Misrach. The first one was from PBS, in which we hear Misrach’s commentary on his photo album. Some of the photos are recognizable, such as the “Broken Dreams” and the “destroy this memory” photos. Like in the Time version, the photos are set in a bleak and desolate setting, thus emphasizing the spray-painted text. However, the commentary by Misrach brought his work to life, as he explains the reasoning behind his work. Instead of taking photos of the clichéd aftermath scenes after a disaster, Misrach takes an alternative route to show the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans. His showcase of the “voice of the people” presents an interesting display of emotions by the natives. I like how he uses haikus as a metaphor for the messages, since they are both short but powerful. Misrach’s order of the photos was effective, as he starts out with the typical enraged messages targeted towards possible looters and the government. However, the photos transition into unexpected reactions, where humor is involved (one included a reference to Elvis!). The last four photos possess a sense of existentialism, with words like “I miss you.” and “What now?” This was an effective ending, since the viewer is left to wonder whether New Orleans can ever make a rebound from this disaster.

Viewing the SFMOMA version after the previous two versions was a different experience. Additional layers such as music and video clips are added, which diminishes the true photo album feel.  In addition, I did not feel I understood the photos as much, since I was distracted by the moving video and music. However, by showing his face, the viewer forms a connection with him. Previously, Richard Misrach was just a name, but now we see him as a human. In all facets of life, it makes a big difference when you see and do things in person. From these three versions of Misrach’s work, I think it would be nice to include a few video clips into my Final Project. Unlike the SFMOMA version of “Destroy the Memory” I won’t use video clips throughout, since I don’t want viewers to get distracted from the photos.


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