Signals Issue.017 :: Subsidence

In planning for 2020 programming, Antenna staff developed the Antenna::Signals thematic arc around water as it relates to drainage, subsidence, infiltration, and retention. These themes encompass our relationships living with water, including the inherent ecological, social, economic, cultural, and political complications and possibilities of creating a more just and sus- tainable future.

In this issue, we address the theme of SUBSIDENCE—the gradual or sudden sinking of the earth’s surface. We explore the sinking of the city of New Orleans from natural sediment to the anthropogenic effects of human activities contribut- ing to subsidence like groundwater extraction or how settler colonialism and human desire to control nature have led to systemic forms of social, economic, and ecological ‘subsid- ence.’ Rarely is the subject of subsidence discussed in relations to the gradual and permanent loss of income, housing, voting rights, or the chipping away of women’s reproductive rights. In this current moment, nearly a year after the pandemic was declared, profoundly affecting the functioning of our city and the world as we know it, we are bearing witness to the multiple ways in which we are losing ‘ground,’ or “the feeling that we’ve had the rug pulled out from under us”—that subtle shifting of orientation or perspective is caused by forces outside of your immediate control.

In the pages that follow, contributors explore the science of subsidence; the ‘underbelly of a plantation economy,’ land loss, and polluting industries on Yakni Chitto; activist art as a challenge to climate change and systemic racism; losing ground writing the cultural economy; the preservation of New Orleans music traditions through vinyl records during times of imper- manence; Buddhism and ecological sustainability; poetry; the day to day experience of subsidence as a queer inheritance; and sharing together through the act of drawing. We hope you enjoy this issue just as much as we did, examining the various ways subsidence impact our lives and how we are responding.

Antenna::Signals is a multimedia cultural program conceived as a quarterly ‘live-action magazine’ and accompanying publication, podcast series, and short documentary series. All of the Signals elements highlight the cultural practitioners and thinkers who shape the cultural landscape of New Orleans, with each installation focusing on a specific theme. You can see past issues on Antenna’s website! In the face of the continuing COVID-19 crisis, Antenna is bolstering Signals multimedia elements instead of live-events.

Featured Image: Kalli Padgett, Out of the Mudd featured in the article “Art and Activism”