Material Witness

 A geology of hauntings

"Haunting can be seen as intrinsically resistant to the contraction and homogenization of time and space. It happens when a place is stained by time, or when a particular place becomes the site for an encounter with broken time.” Mark Fisher

Clay sticks around. It’s much older than us and connects us with histories we otherwise might forget- some of the earliest recorded history appears on clay tablets. Laurel Hill in Lorton, Virginia, recently re-named after the plantation that once stood on the site, has housed a landfill, trash incinerator, brick works, DC prison and now multi-use development project.

Made from local clay and in the style of Alexandria, Virginia pottery that would have been common in 18th and 19th century households, these ceramic crocks are printed with images and text from Youtube videos that document the history of the space from a motley of perspectives. Jog with Youtube-er ttimetrina through the former plantation turned prison. Learn about the “fascinating” history of the Lorton Reformatory prior to being turned into condominiums! Investigate unusual runoff from the landfill in Giles Run creek with Danielle Hughes.

In the accompanying zine I use red Virginia clay to trace the events in Lorton, using the persistence of the clay as material witness as a means to weave together the physical and affective hauntings of trash, thrown-away humans, and revolt.

YouTube links:

“I highly suspect this place is cursed and haunted…” a YouTube commenter suggests.

Jog with youtube-er ttimetrina through the former plantation turned prison.

Survey the "dry tomb" landfill at dusk with drone hobbyist Kaveh Sari.

Investigate unusual runoff from the landfill in Giles Run creek with Danielle Hughes.

In early 2017 the incinerator burned like every other day but this day it caught itself on fire, consuming itself and burned for days.

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