Working in collaboration with Latinx filmmaker and commercial fisherman Andrés Camacho, Isabelle Carbonell collected this 24-hour-long audio recording along a stretch of the lower Mississippi River in Louisiana. This area is infamously known as the “chemical corridor” and “Cancer Alley.” These nicknames emerged from the industrial-scale dumping of petrochemical waste in this portion of the river, and the subsequent bursts of cancer diagnoses among the largely Black population of the River Parishes region.
What might 24 hours of listening to this chemical-laden water tell us about human impact on this waterway? While impossible to listen to the full recording in a single museum visit, the fact that you must at some point walk away from the continuous stream of noise, knowing that it played before you arrived and will continue to play after you leave, extends a temporal understanding of the sheer magnitude of the human use of the Mississippi River.
The river is a paradox, constantly fluid and yet absolutely unmoving from its spot as the life source of countless local municipalities. Petrochemical toxins erode the health of those living in proximity to the river in a similar fashion: pervasive yet silent, constant yet invisible.