The past is never dead. It's not even past - William Faulkner
This work examines how physical form of landscape in the black belt region of Alabama reinforces racism. Creating a negative value of "civic equality”, this is documented by video, photographs and drawings. Communities highly segregated according to race, public space anchored by confederate monuments, compositions of towns that deny ownership reveal a dual narrative of place.
The "color line" W.E.B. Dubois described as "invisible" - but physical is mapped in a series of figure-ground drawings.1According to Williams, this graphic convention "distills the salient formal aspects of community”, I use it isolating the connection of segregated communities to reveal the "invisible" civic spaces of courthouse, street and public square where conflict often occurs. This constested landscape and it’s resultant culture(s) is especially resistant to change.
DuBois described in "Souls of Black Folks” races meet on uneven ground. "…in nearly every Southern town and city, both whites and blacks see commonly the worst of each other.” 2 The South has changed since Dubois made his observations, but the black belt region remains one of the most highly segregated landscapes in America. It is not by accident these are areas ranking highest in judicial and legislative corruption by Harvard’s Center for Government Ethics.3
The idea that a physical landscape contains a double meaning that gives energy to two opposing cultures reinforcing racism, hatred and conflict my conclusion.
1. Williams, Jack. Easy on, Easy off: the Urban Pathology of America's Small Towns. University of Virginia Press, 2016.↩
2. Du Bois William E. The Souls of Black Folks: Revised and Updated Bibliography. Penguin, 1982. ↩
3. “Measuring Illegal and Legal Corruption in American States: Some Results from the Corruption in America Survey.” Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, ethics.harvard.edu/blog/measuring-illegal-and-legal-corruption-american-states-some-results-safra. ↩