Louisiana, USA, operates as an oilscape, sacrificing its landscape in pursuit of economic prosperity through the oil and gas industry. Combined with sea level rise, this has resulted in continuous land loss since the fifties, making the Louisiana coast one of the fastest declining in the world. As a consequence, many communities are living on the frontline of an ever shifting landscape that is disappearing. This research examines the nature of this erasure, the counter-mechanisms of resistance fostered within these communities and ultimately proposes how the notion of space can contribute.As a site of investigation Isle de Jean Charles was chosen, a small Native American community faced with the disappearance of their island. Using the method of Forensic Architecture, through fieldwork, interviews, and workshops, an evidence file was created, assembling the narrative of Isle de Jean Charles as an incident, from which to understand the larger narrative.
The project reads the evidence through the notion of value, space, time, erasure, and resistance. There is a large discrepancy in what is considered valuable: on the one had there are the industries and the state continuously choosing economic gain over the preservation of the environment, whereas on the other hand, the land is considered priceless to those who occupy it. This last story which values the environment and these small communities is largely overshadowed, unheard, and pushed aside. However, these communities do resist and are employing many tools of resistance to negate the ‘violence of erasure’ fighting for preservation of their land, their identity, and the environment as a whole.
This project translates these tools into design tools, to formulate a spatial component to aid this resistance. This spatial component is the building of a line that follows the shape of the current coastline. This line makes visible the changing conditions and erasure of its surroundings, protects the land behind it, and hosts different functions to invite people to the frontline, thereby operating as counter narrative, host, and landscape. Through its modular nature it can multiply to different communities facing with land loss, to collectively tell the story of living on the frontline of climate change. When necessary it can be activated, to reach the larger audience and rewrite what is considered valuable.
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