Water, benign and fierce

By GREG COOK  |  September 15, 2009

Lyn Goeringer's Breakwater in the Grant Recital Hall (Hope Street and Young Orchard Avenue) invites you to operate a slide projector shining on a metal wall. The 80 slides feature generic abstract collages of film leader and chopped up text ("abandoned . . . two old coots," "Katrina hit . . . scurrying"). Randomly tossing the word "Katrina" in does not make this about Katrina. Instead it seems to be about artists having no clue how to address calamity.

This problem is also evident in a case displaying six poems and sheet music to "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "The Battle of New Orleans" at John Hay Library (20 Prospect Street). There's so little here that you might ask: Why bother showing this stuff at all? Perhaps to showcase poet H.C. Kim's description of Katrina as a "mistress of destruction . . . in a jealous rage." It's not only a horribly inaccurate metaphor (the main devastation occurred from waters overtopping faulty levies), it's misogynist. That's when "Katrina, Katrina" transforms from inept to a disgrace.

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