I recently presented a working version of my photography project about coastal Louisiana to a group of docents at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta
along with a handful of photographs from Iraq. One woman asked: “Do you see any similarity between Iraq and the coast of Louisiana?” The question had occurred to me many times before—the most obvious similarity was the role that oil played in both, and it happens that Louisiana is among the states which have lost the most troops per capita to the war in Iraq.
Occasionally I’m reminded of a scene in Iraq’s endangered marshes where the Euphrates empties into the Persian Gulf, the site of another great oil port at a boundary of the former Ottoman Empire. There, like in Louisiana, people still hand-carve canoe-style boats from wood and stand on the floor of the vessels, using poles to navigate the marsh.