Maine has the highest percentage of second homes of any state in the US, with over 5 times the national average. Its 5,000 miles of coastline attracts 36 million visitors each year. There are 97 towns bordering the Atlantic Ocean in Maine. As fisheries and industries migrate, many of these towns have ceded their waterfronts to tourism-based development, and the coastline of Maine has become more and more unaffordable for Mainers. Those who do own waterfront property often live elsewhere, spending a few weeks each year in Maine; the coastline has become a ghost line.
Ghost Line is a publication. The work will be created in the form of an accordion booklet, which, when unfolded, reveals a continuous map of the entire Maine coastline. The coastline will be annotated: all properties that touch the water will be included. Referencing tax maps from each town, artist Dan Hawkins will notate who owns the coastline properties and where they live permanently.
The coast plays such an evocative role in Maine’s history, but most of the activities, people, and communities that feature in that history have been completely changed, often by a combination of tourism and the loss, or the waning, of a fishery, industry, or major employer. The Maine coastline in some ways has been shucked of its locals, becoming a fossilized, aesthetic caricature of itself.
Ghost Line asks the question: who or what is “local”? And it hopes to provoke an honest dialogue about the modern coastline of Maine, not the fetishized coastline of yesterday.