NEW YORK (AP) — In a juxtaposition of two disasters, an exhibit of dresser drawers salvaged from flooded New Orleans has opened at a pedestrian bridge that overlooks the World Trade Center site.
Artist Jana Napoli collected 700 drawers, many full of sodden, wrecked clothing, from trash heaps. Some 350 now empty drawers are on display at the Liberty Street Bridge, lined up with knobs on top along a 230-foot platform.
“Once you went out and looked at what was going on, it was horrific to see everybody’s lives dumped out on the sidewalks,” said Napoli, 60, who lives in New Orleans and stayed through Hurricane Katrina with her 92-year-old mother.
“There must have been a million miles of hand-sewn linen,” Napoli said. “You couldn’t save it. It was like two or three generations of women’s work left on street corners.”
The show, titled “Floodwall,” will be in New York through Feb. 9. Installations in other cities are being negotiated, said Napoli, who was at the exhibit on Sunday answering questions from puzzled tourists.
Before the 2001 terror attacks, the Liberty Street Bridge connected the trade center to the World Financial Center across the West Side Highway. It affords a direct view of ground zero, now teeming with cranes and construction workers.
Visitors on pilgrimages to the trade center site were surprised to see mementoes from Katrina.
“Two different kinds of disasters,” said Peter Lonnebjerg of Arhus, Denmark. “But at the end of the day, it means the same thing — death, loss.”
The drawers are empty except for what was stuck to the bottoms of some — paper clips, bills.
Accompanying them are moving-message LED signs that repeat snippets from interviews with 12 of the owners of the drawers, including these two:
* “My uncle was on the roof for two days before he was rescued and taken to the convention center.”
* “In New Orleans it’s normal to live in a house with three generations.”
The addresses where the drawers were collected are written on the back of each one.
“This is from Lakeview, where they had 10 feet of water,” Napoli said, picking one up. “My old neighborhood.”
Napoli said the idea of bringing “Floodwall” to the trade center site came from David Lackey of Whirlwind Creative, a company that plans and designs museum exhibits. Lower Manhattan Cultural Council head Tom Healy agreed, Napoli said, and Brookfield Properties, which operates the World Financial Center, signed on.