There are many similarities between Louisiana and my country of origine, Armenia. That they are a victim of a natural disaster or a crime against humanity, a doggedness of the history(story) bruised these populations, but never overcame, on the contrary even, their fighting spirit …
Here, as in my travels, I have witnessed a people faced with a key issue : the reconstruction. Despite the terrible adversity of life, in the rubble or precariousness, a strengh leads these people. A survival instinct transcend these women, men and children. It is this vital force which I wanted to retranscribe in this series, bringing me to these people, where the strength of their expression view each of my portraits.
At night, districts distant from the center liven up, the special atmosphere of the lights of bars and from outside offer a unique esthetics. Every space is inhabited by music like a remedy against the harshness of life, which is never easy there. I noticed that the music was the key of this revival as an open door to the escape face the hostility of life.
During the slave trade, the slaves were already meeting every Sunday on “Congo Square” to dance to the drums of their distant native land. Later, the “Creoles of color” or “free colored People” regularly gave concerts of brass instrument. Unknowingly, they put the bases of what would become one of the most fertile musical genres in the world : the Jazz. Since then, music has never left these places. On the contrary, it is mixed with many local cultures and interfererd in all aspects of life …
Ten years after the disaster of the hurricane Katrina, “Faubourg Treme” focuses on the daily lives of residents of Treme, legendary district of New Orleans, the birthplace of Afro-American culture. I decided to go and meet these people to follow them in their daily lives. For six months, I shared the life of these people. I interfered in their daily lives, where music holds a major role.
Every Sunday I went to church “Munt Zion Baptist Church” of Treme. The hearts of the believers beat in unison. I felt a real communion worn by the fervor of the Gospel. Then I followed the students of the “Saint Augustine High School”, famous military academy in New Orleans for its brass band. The students are from disadvantaged neighborhoods. They find their balance through music. The most important event for these schools is still Shrove Tuesday : when a whole city dances with the rhythm wild brass bands and dances of the “Indians of New Orleans.” This tradition of a century and a half exists only in Louisiana. For some, the act of disguising allowed them to divert a racist context. For others, they paid tribute to “real” Indian “Seminoles” who welcomed fugitive slaves. It is a tribute and a mark of respect for Afro-Americans to Amerindians.
“Faubourg Treme,” this is the story of a neighborhood that survived. It is a tribute to the music, art life-saving and emancipating for these people. Art that has interfered in every aspect of life (religion, traditions education …). Art that allowed people to live and resist. Art whose strength is reflected in the look of each and who united my portraits.