Steve Rowell

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© 2020 Stéve Röwëll

Dead Zones: Fertile Wastes at the Head and Tail
of the Mississippi River
2020-21

A film, photographic, essay, and mapping project about the aquatic dead zone of the Gulf of Mexico and the terrestrial dead zones of government subsidized corporate farming across the colonized and transformed prairies of the primarily white “American heartland” and their devastating impact on communities of color and fragile ecosystems downstream. Techno-geo-archaeological landscapes are revealed from above and below the stolen land of the vast Mississippi River Watershed.

In collaboration with Priyanka Basu.

Details forthcoming.


A pile of dry phosphate fertilizer ready for field application somewhere in Minnesota. Most phosphate used in the USA comes from the Bone Valley of Florida where the geologic remains of sea life from the Paleocene (~10 millions years ago) are scraped from the ground. Trillions of ancient shark carcasses are transported through time and space and transmuted into corn syrup and soy protein.


Along the Mississippi River in Louisiana are numerous former plantations where ethno-anthropologists have recently discovered slave burial grounds. Beneath this spot, buried beneath acres of sugarcane, is one of these, the Buena Vista Cemetery. Underground scanning has revealed that caskets and bodies from the 18th and 19th centuries are still intact. They are now under threat of exhumation and displacement by the development of the Formosa Chemical Company's plastics plant called the "Sunshine Project."