URBAN WARRIOR SCRAPBOOK is a video and art installation by artist Dawn DeDeaux created in 1990 and exhibited at varied art venues throughout the United States into the fall of 1993 as part of her traveling exhibition “Soul Shadows.” The video features the late Wayne Hardy, a New Orleans gang leader, who shares a story of his life while turning the pages of his personal scrapbook in vignettes, prompted by the collected photos of friends and family within.
His accounts and opinions are set within time and place New Orleans when "Murder Capital of America" and during a time that police corruption was rampant. Wayne Hardy and brother Paul were dominant players on this city stage mythologized by the press as "The Hardy Boys", and unofficially credited for a majority of the drive by shootings in the late 80s. The video shares aspiration for power and status, often measured by Hardy and friends by the quantity of gold owned and worn. There is no greater example than that of Wayne Hardy’s own celebrated medallion – a solid gold gun measuring 6 inches across embedded with 96 diamonds that appears frequently in photos throughout the Scrapbook, often adorning his 4 year old daughter “to show respect…and that she is not to be messed with…”
Gold as timeless universal symbol of power, for its ironic dominance in late 20th century American bling and Rolex culture, and by way of Hardy’s presentation of himself bejeweled in gold throughout the pages of his scrapbook all prompted DeDeaux’s own "Warrior Icons Series” - 26 life-size, gold-leaf-slathered-portraits of Wayne Hardy posed as varied warriors throughout the ages. Mutually determined by Hardy and DeDeaux after a considerable phase of show and tell, the warrior sweep concluded with contemporary pop interpretations of John Wayne as “Cowboy” and Sylvester Stallone’s offering as “Rambo” – works that were also featured in the Whitney Museum of Art’s 1995 exhibition “Black Male”. DeDeaux lobbied for the importance to include this related video of Wayne Hardy speaking for himself in “Urban Warrior Scrapbook” but curator Thelma Golden who was presenting her own subjective script of black male stereotyping repeatedly turned down this request. This denied viewers any appreciation for the work’s collaborative process with Wayne Hardy, and skewed the interpretation of DeDeaux’s work as that of a disconnected white female’s view of a black man.
URBAN WARRIOR SCRAPBOOK is among several films produced by DeDeaux over a two-year period documenting the lives of The Hardy Boys while also implementing experimental art programming for a 6000-inmate facility. Her class of 96 violent juvenile offenders serving juvenile life sentences revered the Hardy brothers and DeDeaux's videos were also used within her prison classes to prompt dialogue exchanges between juveniles inside and outside the prison walls on topics to curtail gang violence and social injustice.
After surviving 14 attempts on his life, Wayne Hardy was at last killed in a drive by shooting in the early 90s. Wayne Hardy’s mother asked DeDeaux to document his funeral and burial where Hardy’s gold coffin shimmered as it was lowered into a muddy hole. His brother Paul Hardy is now serving life in prison for his role as hit man for corrupt New Orleans policeman Len Davis who order the death of resident Kim Groves days following her complaint against Davis in 1994. Cellphone conversations between Len Davis and Paul Hardy were intercepted by the FBI and contributed to an expanded sting operation against police corruption on the force. The FBI also raided DeDeaux's studio in pursuit of confessional evidence but her documentary work was ruled inadmissible in court by way of Louisiana's Journalistic Shield Law.
URBAN WARRIOR SCRAPBOOK master footage was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina and this is a restored digital transfer from a recently discovered VHS exhibition tape.