Here is a prosecution of the tale of dispossessed property and unknown exodus. We begin with two locations disparate in geography and climate. Within these coordinates are two communities, and still more impossibilities abound in just that. If we think of a community as having some identifiable, or worse, desirable identity as being a character fraught with neurosis, then already we have an excess.
Our first patient, Sweethaven village was born in 1980 or thereabouts in a coastal alcove of the diminutive island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, the location of the filming of Robert Altman’s Popeye. Once production of the film had concluded the studio was left with a predicament. How to deal with the evidence of the film’s expenditure that reared itself now as a near functioning shantytown village with no inhabitants in sight and once- removed from the nearest civilisation. The burden would be transposed to the Island presumably, given the budget dictated extinction rather than annihilation. Suspect archeological visits to the site suggest that the Village endured several themed revisions (a father time, an alternate mouse and duck, a marching band of chipmunks—none of which relate to the day to day world of Popeye ) before eventually returning as Sweethaven Village. The bungalows now repainted in bright pastels vividly mark a departure from the depressed untreated wood mood of the same streets that once witnessed such enjoyable violence, deep sound chatter of mysterious taxation, unknown visitors from the Sea (Popeye), where an extra couldn’t quite manage to posses his hat. Now streams of tourist are more eager to access the water park in the lagoon where Popeye punched an agitated octopus. The emptied shacks circumstantially perform a memorial of its vanquished civilization; any signifiers of the past are a contractual afterthought in an operation that lures its guests to the pleasure of the lagoon’s natural resources. The historical commitment is already evident even in the new managers’ decision to bifurcate the village’s name, which alternates thoughtlessly from Sweethaven Village to Popeye’s Village. It of course was never Popeye’s village to own. He was in fact a refugee seeking asylum in the village and thereby creating much anxiety in the community.
Now shift seas away from the rock island of Malta to the wetlands of Assumption Parish, Louisiana, where already a “Football Field” of wetland vanishes every hour. Near a settlement of houses in Bayou Corne , a sinkhole formed on the site of a chemical plant imbibes swathes of indeterminate flora and unfathomable fauna into the depths of the unknown below. Whereas Sweethaven survived abandonment through the industry of imagination, the Assumption community suffered a mandatory evacuation order due to the seismically residual effects of the refinery industry commonly referred to as fracking. Texas Brine Company, the proprietor of a Louisiana treasure trove of Sodium Chloride, or infernal Salt—the assumed fracking agent—is still litigating with the homeowners of the adjacent neighbourhood to dispossess them of their property. In addition to the threat of the sinkhole expanding, further residual damage, such as mysterious bubble sites, plague the property owners. So Texas Brine launched a campaign to settle with the community by buying up every dwelling. While the causes are urgently polar, a the fate awaiting the Assumption settlement is similar to that of Sweethaven Village, where a once lively settlement of properties is now an archive of propertyless. We speak of the extinction of two civilisations. By intermixing the imaginary and environmental conditions of these locations, the project embarks on a formal procedure in which, absurdly, one community provides asylum for the other. In the course of undertaking this study of residual excess , the proximity of Malta to Lampedusa, where Sweethaven Village idly witnesses the path of so many refugees was already peripherally incorporated. This coincidence has only been compounded with current refugee crisis and problem of European assimilation. A text composed by Keston Sutherland, corresponding on this project, expounds on the circumstances.
Orness…The bifurcation of Marry Shelley’s classic text cannot be overstated. Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus, not only speaks to the principle of being something and not being something at the same time, not only signals ad hoc construction, and even in the anticipation of one of the most enduring unwilled misidentifications of Frankenstein, the author within the author - and the Monster - whose existence is unwilled and only wants to be heard. Frankenstein is the tale on the one hand of mortified labor and the impossible quest to assimilate—of xenophobia. It is a tale of lawless industry and post-disaster anxiety. Or it is a tale of the resistance to identitarian territory, power through propertylessness, and the rule of nomadic assumption. A narrative of causal regret and unquenched desire, this Orness forecasts the apocalyptic excess that empowers through rearrangement. Is the language of disaster preparation any different from a cartoon’s depiction of the realities of the background… perhaps this is no small part of the project Robert Altman’s live action film set out to realize—to explore the day to day conditions of Popeye’s peripheral. Here we see a further refraction of that film into the very real conditions of natural or unnatural disaster, the scenic innards exposed to property of earth vanquished.