Maxime Berthou, Mark Požlep


"Fuck Huckleberry Finn and Mark Twain.
The romance will be over by the end of the trip, I promise."
Kathe Burkhart – studio visit report

In 2019 Maxime Berthou and Mark Požlep embarked on a three-months journey on the Mississippi River on a selfmade steam-powered paddle boat. Contemporary US society was unraveling along this mythical river – poverty, poor health caused by toxic industrial pollution, racial inequality, all part of everyday life.

The Mississippi River, until today the most important commercial waterway in the country, crosses ten states: Minnesota, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas. A body of the nation, a 3.730 km long embodiment of pasts, presents and futures.

Maxime’s and Mark’s trip started on 2 September 2019, a mere month after a half a year period of flooding. Many of the cities along the upper Mississippi have been washed away, marinas have been devastated and destroyed and the infrastructure along the river abandoned, deepening the poverty and destroying the health of people. According to locals that was the most extensive and longest flood since 1993.

SOUTHWIND follows the chronology of the project in movement, translating it into an archive of personal experiences, oral histories, transcripts, and disproportionate production mechanisms.

SOUTHWIND was funded by the pre-selling of Moonshine – local high alcohol spirit, distilled out of corn collected from the local farmers along the Mississippi river.

"America, from a grain
of maize you grew
to crown
with spacious lands
the ocean foam.
A grain of maize was your geography."

Excerpt from "Ode to Maize" by Pablo Neruda

The event SOUTHWIND by Maxime Berthou and Mark Požlep is supported by the Flanders Cultural Activity Grant.

Images: Maxime Berthou and Mark Požlep, SOUTHWIND [2019-ongoing]. Courtesy of the artists.

Artists: Maxime Berthou, Mark Požlep