Volume 96, Issue 3

Thursday, June 6, 2002
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Who ever said racial stereotypes aren't funny?

Katana Kafe tries to take flight

12 Questions

Hand of God touches Katzenjammer Deli

Mousetrap sure to catch audience's laughter

So good it's Blackalicious!

Hand of God touches Katzenjammer Deli

The Hand of God: New Orleans as we see it
Photography by:
Joanna Wiebe and Tim Baer
Katzenjammer Deli
145 King Street

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

New Orleans is simply heaven.

At least that's how photographers Joanna Wiebe and Tim Baer see it.

Inspired by Marc Connelly's movie Green Pastures, in which an angry God begins a tiring attack on the excesses of mankind but ends up granting mercy, Wiebe and Baer travelled to New Orleans last March to capture the clashing bliss and bustle of the "City that Care Forgot."

In this collection, serene cemetery statues are juxtaposed with blaring marching bands and dark, twisting iron fences become the backdrop for colourful costumes and beads. The melding of so many diverse elements in this cosmopolitan city is suited to the bright, multi-hued walls of the exhibit space.

One of the most stunning images can be found adorning the blue wall at the back of the restaurant in which the exhibit is held. Photographed by Baer, it features a stone statue of a grieving mother with one hand clutching her head while her child's naked body lies lifeless in her lap. By leaving the base of the statue out of the picture, the figures are free to inhabit the frame. The erosion that appears on the mother figure resembles a splatter of dark blood that stains her shirt and, most likely, the rest of her life.

The themes of memory and magic continue in other photographs such as the one of the tomb of voodoo priestess Marie Laveau in which the faithful have marked an uncountable number of triple Xs in chalk in the hope that their devotion will reap good fortune. The ragged looking markings on the tomb are enough to send shivers up the spines of those who were scared senseless by the Blair Witch Project.

It's also interesting to note that all the images on display at this show were captured by a digital camera – a device which is increasingly becoming a rival to conventional film cameras. Wiebe and Baer are no strangers to technology. The two are partners in the London-based marketing design company OneMind Inc. providing clients with interactive solutions, especially for the Internet.

Some of the pictures in this exhibit have the feel of advertising photography, especially "Blue Glass," which wouldn't be out of place in the accessories section of an IKEA catalogue. Similarly, the close-up shot of one of the bright fuchsia-coloured flowers in "Azalea" looks like an image that would come in a collection of photo clip art.

But amidst the beauty of vibrant colours, whimsical entertainment and an aging history, there still lingers a mysterious spirit. Is it God? In Wiebe's portrait of St. Patrick's Catholic Church, the structure peeks out among the clutter of buildings that surround it. It's just one of the many faces that one could encounter in New Orleans.

The Hand of God photo exhibit is on display until Jun. 26.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002