In Oppressive Architecture, I explore 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.
The photographed places unify my place of birth with my current place of residence and my country's history as well as that of my husband, who is African-American.
According to Theodore Rosengarten, Germans before WWII sent people to the South to observe the gang labor system employed in the post-Civil War southern cotton fields, intending to grow cotton in their West African colonies. In the mid-1930s, Hitler instructed his Gauleiter across Germany to read the Jim Crow laws of the United States, as a way of applying these ideas for isolating and impoverishing the Jews and separating them from society. Different types of architectural forms were built in the camps to achieve the political goal of extermination. On southern plantations the goals of commodity production, human reproduction, and social repression were served by architectural forms.
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.