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In August of 2005 I spent three weeks at the C-Scape Dune Shack residency in Provincetown, MA. With no connection to world events, my days centered around taking in the beauty of the the dune landscape and making art.

I played a lot with the movie mode of my digital camera and made several short movies of life at the shack, like getting water from the pump, or taking a shower with a solar shower contraption.

I also noticed a lot of balloons being caught in the low growing trees which triggered a series of short movies collecting them, and in doing so, I also contributed to the preservation of the National Seashore environment of which the Dune Shack is part of. Recording myself getting the balloons out of trees and using them as trash bags for the toilet paper which could not go into my state-of-the-arts compost toilet, entertained me for quite a bit. Nothing like shitting into a "Happy 41" balloon.

This balloon obsession, however, came to an abrupt end when I dropped my camera. For more on my dune adventure, click here.

A few days after I got back to New York I was invited to submit to a group show, and I decided on showing some of the balloon photos. Going all the way, I ordered a dozen giant Nurse Balloons: Nurse Karin is gonna help those poor trees…

But then Hurricane Katrina struck, and everything changed!

I was shocked by the immense loss and devastation, and the inhumane and inadequate treatment people received by state agencies including the Red Cross. I had to change course, and instead of presenting something fun and easy, my work cross-pollinated with the political events of the day.

I juxtaposed a dozen “Nurse Smiley” or "Get Well Soon" balloons with images of people salvaging their stuff in waist high water, and of myself cleaning the environment. The experience of two events which couldn't be further apart came together in a kind of surreal happening. Letting the balloons hover at eye level with strings attached to stones resembling little feet imbued them with an eerie anthropomorphous and animated quality.

The surprise actually came a few weeks later, at the end of the exhibition, when the balloons had all collapsed into veritable battlefield of dead balloons. A very poetic end to a strange show. It also reflects on the sad and tragic end of so many people that did not make it to safer ground.

Karin Luner 2005