Nick Jordan

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Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan
Cairo, 2009
HD video, 16.16 mins.

 

Cairo: the breaking up of the ice, features John James Audubon’s graphic tale of the six weeks he and his flatboat crew spent stranded at the frozen confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, in 1809. Today this is the location of Cairo, a town at the southernmost tip of Illinois. Wedged between the two rivers, and encircled by levees, the once prosperous Cairo is a largely abandoned and derelict town, devastated over time by floods, racial segregation, social unrest, unemployment, and severe economic decline.

The film explores both manmade and natural environments along the frozen upper Mississippi, leading to a concluding segment where Audubon’s dramatic narrative of hardship is set against the desolation of Cairo’s commercial centre.

Mirroring the confluence, the film combines the past and present; linking and contrasting historic observations from the frontier wilderness of the early 19th century with a vivid depiction of one of the vanishing downtown quarters of America.

Cairo forms part of a trilogy of short films (The Audubon Trilogy) which focus upon a range of species, events & locations described by Audubon. Combining social, cultural & ecological history, the films reference themes of human exploration and romanticism; the past & present; our relationship to a disappearing wilderness; species extinction and economic rise and fall.

 

 

Cairo exhibition, installation views