A new film that chronicles the journey of two men along the Mississippi River will have its US premiere at the New Orleans Jazz Museum on Tuesday, January 18 at 6 p.m. The south wind is a cinematic essay by artists Maxime Berthou and Mark Požlep, curated by Amy Mackie and curated by PARSE NOLA, and screened as part of the final week of the contemporary art triennial Explore New Orleans.
Berthou and Požlep embarked on a practice-based research trip down the Mississippi River from September 2 to October 20, 2019. Their transportation was a hand-built 20-foot paddle boat named Thumpa. Their goal was to research and experience contemporary life along this mythical 2,300 mile long river.
The pretext for the trip was to harvest corn from local farmers in ten different states – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana – and to interact with people involved in the agriculture, sale, and distribution of the cash crop. Corn production plays a major role in the United States economy and most of it is used to produce ethanol for the petroleum industry.
Modern corn production has a severe and negative impact on the ecology of the Mississippi River. Throughout their journey, Berthou and Požlep encountered a landscape that has been impacted by what is called the Capitalocene, a way to understand how capitalist activities directly contribute to environmental degradation. All of the farmers the artists met on their journey use GMOs (genetically modified organisms) to produce their crops. They told Berthou and Požlep that genetically modified crops restrict the use of pesticides and herbicides and are therefore considered progress in agriculture. As the artists learned, farmers’ denial of climate change was overwhelming and clearly fueled by industrial, political and ideological interests. The use of fertilizers, pesticides, and fuel makes agriculture a major contributor to poor air and water quality in the Mississippi River, as well as impacting climate change.
The south wind will be screened outside at no admission cost. Visitors are asked to dress warmly and bring a chair or blanket. Berthou will be present to present the film. The New Orleans Jazz Museum is located at 400 Esplanade Avenue. For more information, go here.