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Remembering Hurricane Sandy – PRINT Journal

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In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the Caribbean, the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, inflicting significantly extreme flood harm in New York Metropolis.

From Oct. 28–Dec. 20, I Can Scent the Water, a free out of doors exhibition of labor by photographer Saskia Kahn, will likely be proven as a part of NYC Parks’ Artwork within the Parks program. Positioned on the Falmouth Road entrance to Manhattan Seashore Park, the exhibition commemorates the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and acknowledges the profound impression of the storm on the lives of New Yorkers.

I Can Scent the Water originated with the photographer’s discovery of a household album that had been submerged through the flooding. The recovered images featured Kahn’s grandmother smiling on a seashore simply after surviving the Holocaust.

The exhibition contains Kahn’s intimate seashore portraits, offered as massive banners, a lot of younger folks. “I typically {photograph} youth,” Kahn says. “I consider how local weather change and disasters like Sandy will problem them.” To replicate on this fragility, Kahn submerged a few of the images within the ocean at Manhattan Seashore Park—an act of preemptive grief. She speaks extra of the work on this interview.

What impressed the pictures on this tribute?
When the storm occurred, I felt like I had a defend defending me from considering too deeply about its impression. It wasn’t till years later that I noticed Hiroshi Sugimoto’s {photograph} that had been via Sandy, The Final Supper: Acts of God, on a visit to San Francisco, that I noticed there was a long-lasting emotional piece to confront. I felt dread combined with resentment that coastal residing, perhaps even New York Metropolis as a complete, can be an untenable place to reside. My mother and father shared that nervousness for some time and even put the home on sale. So, it appeared like I ought to begin saying goodbye to the place that formed my id. I walked alongside the seashore, pre-, mid-, and “post-” pandemic, with my digicam, savoring the panorama and making portraits of strangers who shared this love of the seashore with me. Whereas making seashore portraits, I discovered this one household photograph album from 1950 that had been practically destroyed from sitting in saltwater in 2012. I made a decision I’d deliberately submerge my images in the identical ocean water to deal with what I name “preemptive grief,” discovering an motion I might do to get some mourning out of the best way earlier than the inevitable loss. 

The place had been you through the surge of the storm?
Proper earlier than the storm, my sister and I separated from our mother and father. We didn’t undergo the difficulty of attempting to avoid wasting something from potential flooding as a result of when the earlier Hurricane (Irene) hit New York, we didn’t run into any points. We had been fortunate to take our automobiles as a result of any automobiles that stayed within the neighborhood had been ruined from saltwater harm. First, we stayed with my boyfriend on the time in Queens, after which went to a different good friend’s home in Sundown Park, Brooklyn. I used to be a bartender on the time at a spot known as Freddy’s in South Slope, and with it being the week of Halloween, the bar remained open and was packed each evening. Through the storm’s peak, we walked via huge gusts of wind, previous damaged avenue indicators and sparking electrical items till we reached the bar. The physique warmth inside and dank, moist air fully fogged the home windows. I keep in mind everybody’s hair being frizzy from the humidity. It was a enjoyable journey for my sister and me as a result of we didn’t know till days later what the harm would appear to be. We had been very lucky. Our neighbors who stayed practically drowned attempting to salvage issues as stormwater shortly rose. 

One other reminiscence that fueled specializing in the communities of coastal Brooklyn is that, after the storm, we didn’t have warmth, electrical energy or sizzling water. Nevertheless, I nonetheless needed to help a vogue photographer on a shoot in “town.” I arrived hardly bathed and was quietly offended after I heard the opposite people on set giggle concerning the storm being overhyped—”What storm?” they stated. It underscored one thing I all the time felt as a Brooklyn lady: South Brooklyn and “town” should not the identical worlds. 

What did you suppose upon discovering the album? Your loved ones survived the Holocaust. Did the devastation of the storm set off a traumatic response?
Our basement was the place many archives had been saved—information, VHS tapes, my mom’s illustrations, and so forth. I didn’t even know there was a photograph album from the mid-Twentieth century down there. It was thrilling to see the photographs for the primary time, despite the fact that they had been fragile and practically disintegrated. I felt just like the photographs had been speaking to me. One in all them even had my birthdate written on the again. I wasn’t triggered negatively, however I felt intense motivation, and it was the primary time I understood the that means of belonging to a diaspora. Within the photographs, my grandmother is smiling on a seashore vigorous. How might that be? I knew about her story, because it was not a household secret that almost her total household was murdered all through the Holocaust and that she survived focus camps, the Dying March and different traumas. However one thing concerning the seashore summoned up a sense of freedom and pleasure for her. I remembered that earlier than the warfare, she grew up in a coastal city within the metropolis of Liepaja in Latvia. I remembered that my maternal nice grandmother additionally got here from a “spa” village in Romania. I assumed deeply concerning the position of water for my ancestors and the way, for them, returning to the water should have introduced a consolation that I can solely fathom.

The opposite takeaway was that images should not historic information exempt from destruction.

The exhibit is outside. What would you like your viewers to remove as they stroll down the seashore?
I need beach-goers to really feel celebrated, and [I want to] remind people who this can be a public seashore. Manhattan Seashore has been more and more policed and is situated in a bit of town that’s laborious to succeed in. There’s a darkish historical past to NYC seashores, relating to gatekeeping and racial violence. I hope the photographs’ presence will add to a sense of inclusivity for all New Yorkers who come to the seashore. And I believe there’s a chance for this seashore group to put money into local weather motion. 

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