Taken in moments of tranquil cohabitation rather than scenes of flooding and disaster, Virginia Hanusik’s photographs interrogate the commonplace existence of communities touched by South Louisiana’s struggle with sea-level rise. “Despite the uncertainty that rising seas and coastal erosion bring to the region,” Hanusik writes, “there is hope found in the history of building practices and land migration patterns that are responses to environmental change.”
Elijah Barrett’s collection, Rockport, chronicles the weeks and months following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. His photographs reveal the devastation enacted upon the landscape, and give insight into the lives of those who are now suspended in a state of wondering what comes next, and who are left to make sense of what happened.
A Southern Journey from the Summer 2018 issue.
I am again driving through the moon-flecked summer night, the hot dead bugs against my windshield summer night, the benzene-sulfur-streaked chemical stacks streaming into the gleaming Gulf summer night. It is so damn hot down here, so sultry, but I don’t want to turn the air-conditioning on in my little red fuel-efficient rental vehicle; I want to breathe in the heat, bathe in the heat, dance with it! And I happen to find a watering hole where I can do just that, in the belly of the belly of the belly of the beast. The Neon Moon Saloon, a cement-floor biker bar in industrial Houston. There’s a lively game at the billiard table, rough red-faced men at the wooden bar, a glowing neon cabinet of booze. It is an end-of-the-world type of place, and this is the end of the world.
Ben Depp’s Bayou’s End is the result of three years “flying above the bayous and wetlands of southern Louisiana in a powered paraglider,” taking aerial photographs from thousands of feet above the ground. Depp spends hours at a time in the air, waiting for just the right moment to capture the “spaces where the geometric patterns of human enterprise—canals, oil platforms, pipelines and roads—collide with nature’s organic forms.”
New Orleans is known as the impossible and inevitable city, due to its complex geography that tests the boundaries of human engineering. In her latest project, Virginia Hanusik examines “how a distinct sense of place is perpetuated through the built environment,” in a city whose uniqueness and aesthetic beauty is tied to the uncertainty of rising waters outside of the levee walls.
At that time, I hadn’t driven this road in well over a decade, but as I wrenched the car into the left lane, I made up my mind to revisit the highway at least once per year, preferably in late summer to early fall, when the average temperature in South Louisiana falls to the mid-90s and those imposing lizards come crawling out of their swamps and jungly environs to sun themselves on the steaming pavement.