Dangerous Waters
Project info

This collection of photographs explores the contemporary social impact of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). They are images of the infrastructure that controls a river and the surrounding public area around those locations. To those that live and work there, the landscape is one of compromise. The sacrifices are privately internalized and the social benefits publicly celebrated. Citizens coexist with the industry, and are constantly reminded that while the river is controlled, it is far from safe.

TVA is the largest public provider of electricity in the United States. Established in 1933, it provides wholesale electricity throughout a seven state area while managing the navigable waters of the Tennessee River and its tributaries. The massive project and the modernization it promised the region came with a cost, and that cost was land. Overall, the government purchased 1.3 million acres of land, forcibly removed over 13,000 families, and relocated 20,000 graves.

This was not a one-time transaction. Social and cultural consequences continue to reverberate throughout the region. Ultimately, TVA has cultivated a particular ecosystem – one of quiet control and social welfare. It is a manicured landscape of power and ownership, utilitarian in practice and utopian in concept.