Brackish is a multimedia visual ethnography of NOLA and hurricane Katrina created by Tara L. Conley. Spanning ten years, this collection provides a glimpse into some of the complicated stories of survival and resistance, of moving and standing still. This ethnography primarily follows Kellen Smith's journey from a 23-year-old aspiring professional bowler, golfer, and music producer to a 33-year-old telecommunications technician, partner to his fiancee (who he meant immediately after Katrina), and father to his 9-year-old stepdaughter and newborn son.
Directed and produced by Tara L. Conley, Ed.D. Brackish follows native New Orleanian and hurricane Katrina survivor Kellen Smith on his journey from a 23-year-old aspiring professional bowler, golfer, and music producer to a 33-year-old telecommunications technician, partner to his fiancee, and father to his 9-year-old stepdaughter and newborn son. It's a story of wading in the waters with near dwellers who have experienced rupture and being ruptured. It's also a celebration of the lives of those who have survived and found strength in family, music, and tradition.
Conley first began documenting the stories and events of hurricane Katrina in early September of 2005. Over the course of ten years, Conley focused storytelling on the life of Kellen Smith, a native New Orleanian, Katrina survivor, and friend. Throughout the past decade, Conley's work as a 21st century storyteller and mediamaker has evolved as digital technologies and media have rapidly changed. Conley's field notes over the years came in the form digital blogs, handwritten sticky notes, digital short films, and cell phone audio recordings. For Conley, documenting the events of hurricane Katrina was entirely a multimodal journey of text, sound, image, and spatial awareness. Two blogs, four digital cameras, and five generations of video editing software later, Conley's visual compilation illustrates a narrative that few visual ethnographers of hurricane Katrina have been able to craft.
Read also: A Katrina Survival Story Told Over 10 Years (via Colorlines).
"I am forever grateful and humbled by all those who allowed me into their lives, camera in tow, to share their stories of hurricane Katrina over the past ten years. I am indebted to the survivors and the storytellers; the ones who by their very own telling, made me a better listener, maker, and human being. I offer Brackish, a visual ethnography of NOLA and hurricane Katrina as celebration of their lives" - Tara L. Conley, Ed.D.