“The energy of the real presents itself as a mask.”        Alain Badiou 2007 The Century

Because the real is a fiction, or at least always suspected of semblance, in cities the passion for the real requires a ritual purification, a purging at selected sites, terrains that are supposedly pure. Since there are no such sites in the city, not even holy ground, the purification takes place at locations that have been critical in the formation of the city, sites which are quintessentially urban, structurally written into the field of the city -  sites that were developed through greed and pain …

 First these sites are vacated. Then they are cleansed. Then they are reformulated, written back into the culture of the city as inoculated zones, purged and purified.

Perhaps it is not possible to overcome this embedded narrative of purity and contamination, but it is possible to expose the agonism that drives it. The City of Anniston in Northern Alabama has a history of land-grabbing, chemical industry pollution, nuclear waste disposal controversies, civil rights abuses and divisive power politics. Its region, however, is rich in native american histories and biodiversity. In 2011 the city decided to  build a new park in its historic district, to jumpstart redevelopment, and to link the park and district to the Chief Ladiga Trail, a regional rail to trail project.

A series of maps was made to discover ways to link ecologies, histories and geographies in the design of the new park in an approach that does not obscure its hurtful past but reproblematizes it.

[Images courtesy Sylvia Barnett]