Project Statement: "On the Batture”

In Louisiana, the land between the Mississippi River and its levees is “the batture”, from the French verb “to beat”; so the batture is, literally, the land that is beaten on by the river . Cut off from most interferences of people by a fifty foot high levee, the batture is a world unto itself. It ebbs, flows, and reforms, controlled only by the whims of the river. Sometimes under water, sometimes choked by vines and dense undergrowth, the batture is a transitional space fluctuating with the river’s pulse. “On the Batture” explores this magically ephemeral no-man’s land.

Most of us who live along the river no longer have much contact with it, separated visually and psychologically by the levee. This project began with a walk over the levee at a friend’s home. Stepping over the crown of the levee, I entered a different world. I was immediately taken in by the powerful mystery and primal energy in this ribbon of wild land separated from towns, businesses and highways by the ribbon of levee between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

In South Louisiana, interaction with nature is rich, sensual, and immediate; we wade through humidity and pollen, live intimately will insects, expect that small trees may sprout overnight in cracks of a building’s wall and are not surprised when things left untended are obscured by vines or moss. As a child, this intimacy with the relentless press of nature led me to an attunement with the natural world as a mystical realm where anything might happen.

With these photographs, I revisit my childlike relationship with nature, reestablishing a mystical connection with its less overt aspects. As I have photographed along the batture for the past three years, the project has taken on the feel of a fairy tale in which the landscape is animated both by a regenerative vitality and a feeling of otherness.


Go to "On the Batture I"