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Architecture / Criticism > Into the Quiet and the Light

Into the Quiet and the Light: Water, Life, and Land Loss in South Louisiana

By Virginia Hanusik

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Publish Date

July 16, 2024


Photography / Subjects & Themes / Landscapes
Nature / Ecosystems & Habitats / Coastal Regions & Shorelines


In South Louisiana, where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico, water—and the history of controlling it—is omnipresent. Into the Quiet and the Light: Water, Life, and Land Loss in South Louisiana glimpses the vulnerabilities and possibilities of living on the water during an ongoing climate catastrophe and the fallout of the fossil fuel industry—past, present, and future. The book sustains our physical, mental, and emotional connections to these landscapes through a collection of photographs by Virginia Hanusik. Framing the architecture and infrastructure of South Louisiana with both distance and intimacy, introspection and expansiveness, this work engages new memories, microhistories, anecdotes, and insights from scholars, artists, activists, and practitioners working in the region. Unfolding alongside and in dialogue with Hanusik’s photographs, these reflections soberly and hopefully populate images of South Louisiana’s built and natural environments, opening up multiple pathways that defy singularity and complicate the disaster-oriented imagery often associated with the region and its people. In staging these meditations on water, life, and land loss, this book invites readers to join both Hanusik and the contributors in reading multiplicity into South Louisiana’s water-ruled landscapes.

With texts from Richie Blink, Imani Jacqueline Brown, Jessica Dandridge, Rebecca Elliott, Michael Esealuka, T. Mayheart Dardar, Billy Fleming, Andy Horowitz, Arthur Johnson, Louis Michot, Nini Nguyen, Kate Orff, Jessi Parfait, Amy Stelly, Jonathan Tate, Aaron Turner, and John Verdin.
Virginia Hanusik is an artist whose work explores the relationships between landscape, culture, and the built environment. Her projects have been exhibited internationally and supported by the Graham Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Pulitzer Center, and the Mellon Foundation, among others. She writes about landscape representation, extraction, and the visual narratives of climate change, and has been featured in the New Yorker, the Oxford American, the British Journal of Photography, and National Geographic. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

ISBN: 9781941332825
Format: Hardback
Pages: 184
Publisher: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City
Published: July 16, 2024

Reminiscent of the grand, romantic landscape paintings made by the Hudson River School of artists in the mid-19th century, these photos simmer with sublime beauty, even when one realizes that the subject of the camera’s focus is as monstrous, as unappealing, for instance, as a levee wall.This powerful book about land loss and the destruction of the historically rich and abundant landscapes of southeastern Louisiana is a stunning call to action. Alongside what are often haunting anything-but-still-life images of built landscapes by Hanusik are moving essays, poems, vignettes, and histories of the region, many by and about the indigenous protectors and cultivators of the land, and the descendants of formerly enslaved Black Americans who've worked the disappearing marshes for centuries. After Hanusik foregrounds Into the Quiet and the Light with a background of the history of exploitation of natural resources by colonial powers in Louisiana dating back to the seventeenth century, her book soars into the present with the juxtaposed beauty of a land and its peoples against the omnipresent force of destruction and greed from the petrochemical industry and its forebears of global capitalism, racism, and all else that fuels climate catastrophe.