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Mired in the Bayou

99% Gallery
99 North 10th Street
October 15 - November 11, 2010
Reception: Friday, October 15, 7 - 10 PM
Web Site

99% Gallery with present Mired in the Bayou a mixed-medium exhibit, featuring the work of photographers Michael De Pasquale and Reed Young, written narrative and audio by journalist Erin Sheehy, and an installation by artist Graham Holly.

Bayou La Batre, is a small town of approximately 2,500, and has long been known as the seafood capital of Alabama. However, over the past decade, foreign imports, the rising cost of diesel fuel, and overfishing have eroded the seafood industry that supports this community. After Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Katrina, business slowed even further as residents of the area rebuilt from the ground up. The oyster reefs in Mobile Bay were destroyed and many shrimp boats were literally run aground as their owners were unable to make payments. The community was just beginning to recover when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April. Now, in the aftermath, BP has thrown astonishing amounts of money at this small town, creating divisions in this diverse community. With the seafood industry at a standstill, competition for BP’s “free money” has caused an uglier side of the local identity to emerge, as the same stubbornness that community members take pride in has pit them against each other. Worse still, the influx of money and the subsequent human drama distract from the more ominous reality of what will happen when the oil money stops, and the community is still left without its industry and livelihood.

In light of this turmoil, Michael De Pasquale, Reed Young and Erin Sheehy traveled to the small fishing community of Bayou La Batre in July of 2010 to document the effects of the disaster. With their project Mired in the Bayou the trio chronicle the lives of ten unique individuals residing in Bayou La Batre, each of whom have been affected by the spill. But rather than unveiling the narrative of a single tragedy, the three explore a community, which with time, has become well acquainted with catastrophe.

Through a distinct three-person narrative, Mired in the Bayou blends the artists’ strikingly divergent styles to create a singular portraiture project consisting of twenty photographs and accompanying text and audio. Their different approaches highlight the fracture between the material reality of Southern Mobile County, its citizens and its lore. Moreover, what arises from their efforts is an arresting juxtaposition of images and text fragments that, as a whole, is able to create an more unlikely and much more complete portrait of their subjects.

Mired in the Bayou hopes to convey a deeper and more textured view of communities in the Gulf Coast, particularly as compared to what has thus far been portrayed in the media. Mired in the Bayou seeks to reveal not just the current situation, but the history and dynamics of a town now in despair.
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