Highway Gothic, 2017

Basel 2019
Mixed Media
16mm film installation with 70 mm film cyanotype banners, lightboxes, textile banners; 16’, 7’ respectively; dimensions variable
Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher’s Highway Gothic (2017) is an installation consisting of two 16mm film projections and cyanotype banners created on film strips, linen, and canvas. It explores the ecological, cultural, and social impact of U.S. Interstate 10 Freeway as it cuts through both New Orleans and the Atchafalaya Swamp. The work contains numerous intersecting histories spanning from pre-colonial times to the present day: that of the Chitimacha Indians; that of Faubourg Tremé, one of the oldest Black urban neighborhoods in the country; that of government planning (explored via the typeface Highway Gothic, which has been used for all road signs after World War II); that of ‘specimen prints’ (made using human hair rather than botanical specimens); and that of experimental film (using various liquids to distort physical film reels containing footage of the bayou). Flowing within and between these lines of inquiry are violent histories of colonization, genocide, slavery, displacement, ecological destruction, capitalist infrastructure, and tourism; alongside the art, music, culture, and passionate resistance that continue to thrive in spite of these brutal systems.