When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city of New Orleans in 2005, the recovery process was one that tested mind and body alike. In addition to the physical damages, Katrina was a painful illustration of the government’s ineptitude and complete failure to protect New Orleans residents. But as the city healed, it was the heart and soul of these individuals that ensured the salvation of the unique New Orleans spirit.
Death Magick Abundance by Akasha Rabut is a ten-year collection of photographic works that captures the lives of the post-Katrina generation in New Orleans. Filled with vibrant images of celebration and festivals, Rabut illuminates the powerful sense of community that has carried the city through tragedy. In the face of deficient governmental support, the people of New Orleans are a touching example of the good that is created when people come together and care for each other.
Rabut began her photographic work while living on a Second Line parade route, and this source of inspiration is evident in her new release. The sense of joy and festivity that permeates New Orleans culture is encapsulated in a variety of subjects, young and old. While not all of the photographs in Death Magick Abundance feature human subjects, Rabut’s fixation on the people of the city shines through in every work.
The book also prominently features two clubs that Rabut met at the Second Line: the Caramel Curves and the Southern Riderz. The Caramel Curves are an all-female black motorcycle club based in New Orleans. Known for their stilettos and magenta-hued burnouts, the 13-member group can be seen cruising through the city in matching bedazzled vests and helmets ridged with bright pink mohawks. Rabut’s portraits of the members of the Caramel Curves are powerful and compelling, exemplifying the strong feminine spirit that carries the city.
The Southern Riderz are a group of modern urban cowboys that have united through a shared passion for their horses. The club has been running for about twenty years with thirty-one members that range in age from thirty to fifty. The relationship between the horses and their riders is one of intimacy and intuition, and their seemingly anachronistic presence in the city is an embodiment of the unique culture that characterizes New Orleans.
Death Magick Abundance is an ode to the people that persevere in spite of a government that has abandoned them. “Many things die for growth to happen and that’s the magic. When growth happens, abundance is inevitable. It’s the cycle of death to life: shed the old to begin the new and abundance is our destiny,” Rabut says, in an interview with AnOther Magazine. The timeliness of the book’s release––in the midst of a pandemic––though an ironic coincidence, works to further exemplify Rabut’s message of the people’s resilience.
Death Magick Abundance by Akasha Rabut is out now, published by Anthology Editions. Proceeds from books purchased from Rabut’s website will be donated to the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s COVID Response through April 28th.
Cover Photo: Central City, 2018 © Akasha Rabut from ‘Death Magick Abundance’ published by Anthology Editions