This image of Fort Pulaski/salt marsh is one my favorites in the series. While building the composition I thought of growing up on Tybee and the impact that living near this monumental structure had on my childhood. (I see it’s influence in my installation work, my photography, and my desire to visit/experience/document historical sites) Then yesterday my family had an early Fathers Day celebration that included walking the grounds of Fort Pulaski and this image came back to mind. An image of repeated portals and barriers on various levels. The coast being a natural barrier to the sea, the moat that surrounds the fort, the marsh that surrounds the moat and the brick walls that are the fort. And then there are the portals, the sky being a portal to the heavens, the water a portal to below and the opening in the brick being a portal in the barrier itself. I dwelled on the 18 years it took to build the fort and the 30 hours it took for the fort to fall during the Civil War. Thinking about the men on the inside at that time and the men on the outside…exchanging fire, wondering what the next hour would bring. Shells shaking the earth and decimating the walls. The Union soldiers on Tybee and the Confederate soldiers in Fort Pulaski must have both been scared as the whistle of shells sang through the night and the boom of black powder burning echoed across the marsh. And not a single life was lost in those 30 hours. Then the changes that take place where portals and barriers are present. Those in power becoming the powerless and those on the exterior soon becoming those who controlled the interior. And then the fort being abandoned, forgotten, overgrown and consumed by the environment (it brought forth images of Machu Picchu before its jungle veil was pushed aside) until it was deemed a monument worth saving. I imagined the train that used to run back and forth to Tybee, full of beach visitors passing this decaying monument with it’s breached defenses and crumbling walls. How exotic it must have looked back then. Then I thought of exploring this space as a child, hiking here as Cub Scout returning as a teen, walking my dog here in my twenties, and now wandering the grounds with child, wife and father. I was at Fort Pulaski watching Haley’s Comet pass by. I have spent many years and had many different experiences within those battered brick walls. As we toured the fort yesterday, peering through all of the portals and running our fingers over weathered wooden doors I thought of how appropriate this image is for the Conservation vs Construction series.
Thank you Ian for the tour/info you shared with us at Fort Pulaski. It was great seeing you.