Sounding the Mississippi

August 22nd, 2019

Listening to the stories and sounds that resonate around the Mississippi can show how ecosystems exist within multiple crisscrossing interrelations.

Curator and educator Margarida Mendes documents the lower Mississippi River as an acoustic space, considering the relationships between the body, environment and industry. In sound, poetry and visual material, Mendes explores the various sensing systems that exist in the industrialized soundscape of “Cancer Alley,” an area dense with petrochemical plants and high in pollution. What is the connection between noise and toxicity? And how might sonic residues disrupt the bodies and immune responses of local residents?

How can we trace the interscalar continuity between bodies and the environment? Can we sense the reverberations and infrastructural rhythms that industrialization imprints on matter? If so, what is the sonic residue of toxicity, and how can we mobilize this knowledge into shaping more regenerative relations? This project documented the lower Mississippi River as an acoustic space, registering the industrialized soundscape of “Cancer Alley,” its embankments, and surrounding infrastructure, investigating how increasing background noise and chemical unbalance may be connected with endocrinological and immunity disruptions. I propose to ask what sensing systems, forms of existence, and parts of the spectrum are accounted for, and which ones lay suppressed by current biopolitical regimes.