In the US state of Louisiana, along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, a heavily industrialised ‘Petrochemical Corridor’ overlays a territory formerly known as ‘Plantation Country’. When slavery was abolished in 1865, more than five hundred sugarcane plantations lined both sides of the lower Mississippi River; today, more than two hundred of those sites are occupied by some of the United States’ most polluting petrochemical facilities. Residents of the majority-Black ‘fenceline’ communities that border those facilities breathe some of the most toxic air in the country and suffer some of the highest rates of cancer, along with a wide variety of other serious health ailments. They call their homeland ‘Death Alley’. Here, environmental degradation and cancer risk manifest as the by-products of colonialism and slavery. if toxic air is a monument to slavery, how do we take it down? traces Forensic Architecture’s investigation into toxicity in post-plantation landscapes.
About the artists
Forensic Architecture (FA) is a research agency, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, investigating human rights violations including violence committed by states, police forces, militaries, and corporations. FA works in partnership with institutions across civil society, from grassroots activists, to legal teams, to international NGOs and media organisations, to carry out investigations with and on behalf of communities and individuals affected by conflict, police brutality, border regimes and environmental violence. FA’s investigations employ cutting edge techniques in spatial and architectural analysis, open source investigation, digital modelling, and immersive technologies, as well as documentary research, situated interviews, and academic collaboration. Findings from our investigations have been presented in national and international courtrooms, parliamentary inquiries, cultural institutions, international media, as well as in citizen’s tribunals and community assemblies.
In partnership with RISE St James. Full credits are available at this link.