Rooee addresses the remnants of the “empire of cotton” in two of its most prominent sites: the South Carolina Lowcountry and the textile mills of Bombay. Making images in each of these locales, we speculate that the circumstances of the surviving millworkers are commensurate with the conditions of American descendants of slaves. Tied in through the global history of Bombay’s agricommerce, we look to the fields, factories and abandoned homesteads in which they labored. Our photographs are combined with poetry and text that is designed to contextualize how African American enslavement and Indian indenturetude were bound together by British greed for cotton. Guncotton holistically explores how the industrial revolution and the concurrent reign of capitalism transformed the “demise” of the global cotton trade into a futurity of black and brown ambivalence.
The historically personal references from which our work is drawn, and the poetry and images itself, will also be made available to the public in a chapbook that is specifically designed for the show. Collectively, Guncotton consists of Radiclani Clytus, Terrance Hayes, Arun Kale, Alisha Sett, Rajesh Vora and Fletcher Williams III.