Plantation Still Lifes is part of the Oppressive Architecture project. In Oppressive Architecture, Gesche explores the aftermath of connections between American slavery and German Nazism in the area of forced labor systems and what impacts they have left on the contemporary landscape and its inhabitants. The project is inspired by Stanley Elkins’ claim that the Nazi regime took inspiration from the plantation and slavery system from the pre-Civil War era to develop it for their own purposes through the construction of labor and concentration camps.
In the past years, many of these architectural forms have been converted into museums or memorials. Except for some plantations, the places are no longer inhabited. It is of interest to me to explore how these two countries commemorate and reconcile their past by maintaining or demolishing these structures.
While photographing the architectural forms at each plantation, Gesche collected plant species – the new inhabitants of these places – and photographed them in the lighting studio. This served as a way to dislocate the species from their original spaces – the same that happened to the former slaves that were forced to live and labor on these plantations.