A waterline is a horizontal mark on a wall or surface that is made by water during a flood.
It’s the lines drawn in a neighborhood when one house is devastated by flooding but the house across the street is not.
It’s the theme of this year’s Indie Grits festival.
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In addition to the film, music and technology aspects of the four-day festival, this year includes work by a contingent of artists documenting and interpreting the impact of the October flooding in Columbia. The work from around 20 artists includes photography, performance art, sculpture and a mural that will be on display throughout Indie Grits.
“We’re participating in the post-digestion of what happened,” festival co-founder Seth Gadsden said. “Our goal is to archive what happened in a very human and creative way.”
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Originally, the festival’s focus was on celebrating the Congaree River, with plans to have the entire festival at and around the river, Gadsden said. “We were working with West Columbia, Cayce, city of Columbia, all kinds of private developers. Everything was shaping up, and then the flood hit in October and kind of wrecked a lot of those plans.”
Some events – the opening kickoff concert with Eighth Blackbird and the river concert with Big Freedia – will still take place on the banks of the Congaree. But the rest of Indie Grits required some rethinking, including the theme.
“ ‘Waterlines’ visually and metaphorically represents what’s left behind when the water recedes,” Gadsden said.
In a curatorial statement about the works, Gadsden said Waterlines “is our offering to you, an imaginative rethinking of the powerful natural symbols that have defined our community.”
A few examples of the Waterlines art are:
“Underbelly Up”: Nickelodeon Theatre’s filmmaker-in-residence Joshua Yates scrapped his original project for Indie Grits after the flood and is now recording an oral history of the flood. Yates’ autobiographical film, “Underbelly Up,” mixes audio-only interviews with grainy 16mm film to create an “emotional rumination on loss, trauma, and the construction of memory.” “Underbelly Up” will be donated to the South Caroliniana Library Office of Oral History after the festival, Gadsden said.
“The Ark”: Photographer Michael Dantzler pairs people in his community with floodplain-beneficial plants in diptych portraits. On one side of each portrait is an individual affected by the flooding, and on the other is a plant illustrative of his or her resilience.
“Water Me.” A video game created by Cecil Decker, Chris Johnson, Danny Oakes, James Owens, and Michelle Skipper. The goal of the game is to keep your house plant alive, but if you give it contaminated tap water, it will die.