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Prospect.3: Notes for Now in New Orleans

The Grand Marshall leading the Second Line procession through the street of New Orleans

 

Prospect.3: Notes for Now in New Orleans

By PAUL LASTER, NOV. 2014

Launched two years after Hurricane Katrina had devastated large areas of New Orleans and the Louisiana Gulf Region, Prospect New Orleans was conceived as an international biennial to exhibit current artistic practices while contributing to the city’s cultural and economic recovery. Veering from the path of the initial incarnations, which were organized by founder and former director Dan Cameron, the third Prospect New Orleans, curated by Los Angeles County Museum of Art chief curator and P.3 artistic director Franklin Sirmans, features 58 national and international artists that explore ideas associated with a search to discover one’s place in the world—sometimes related to the “Crescent City” and the South, while at other times evoking the place whence the artists came or imagine they might want to be.

“I started with studio visits, everywhere that I was going for other things; and then began utilizing my contemporary art department at LACMA and taking advantage of the fact that they were also traveling,” Sirmans told Whitehot about the point of departure for the show. “Between the four of us we had a whole lot covered. There was not only Rita Gonzalez and Christine Kim, who were the advising curators, but then Jarrett Gregory helped out, too. I benefitted from the studio visits that they were doing, as well. The first year and a half we weren’t looking for anything in particular, just what was good, what was interesting. It could have just been a round-up show—and that could have been interesting if you get the best work you’ve seen in the past few years from around the world—but then the thematic came into play. At that point we were guided.”

Beginning the storyline with Paul Gauguin, who traveled to Tahiti to find himself, as a window onto the international, Sirmans discovered a painting on glass doors in the New Orleans Museum of Art that the artist made during his first sojourn in the Polynesian paradise. Literature played the next role in the thematic development of the biennial, with Percy Walker’s 1962 novel The Moviegoer, a story about a young New Orleans stockbroker who embarks on a life-changing quest on the eve of his thirtieth birthday, taking the lead and Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth also being influential. The third key factor in the show’s concept is the work of modernist painter Tarsila do Amaral, a Brazilian nationalist that recognized her country’s ethnic diversity as a strength.

On view at eighteen venues spread throughout the city’s historical neighborhoods Prospect.3: Notes for Now includes solo and group exhibitions, site-specific installations, and 20 new commissions—about a third of the show. Standouts include Carrie Mae Weems’ holographic narrative about race, sex, and politics portrayed by ghostly characters on a burlesque stage; The Propeller Group’s video that draws parallels between funeral practices in Vietnam and New Orleans, along with the collective’s sculptures of tricked-out musical instruments, which were also photographed with members of Louisiana marching bands; Glenn Kaino’s installation of water tanks that turn military machines into coral reefs; Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings and works on paper that reference the cultural legacy of the Mississippi Delta and the South; Camille Henrot’s video exploration of the universe by way of the storage rooms of the Smithsonian Institution; Tavares Strachan’s 100-foot long neon sign declaring “You belong here” from a barge on the Mississippi River; and Andrea Fraser’s monologue, in which she recreated a heated debate by New Orleans city council members during a 1991 vote to racially integrate the Mardi Gras krewes—changing her voice and expression as she dynamically alternated between speakers, both black and white.

Scroll through our photographs of artists, museum directors and curators, gallerists, critics, advisors, and collectors that made the trip to New Orleans for the opening of P.3, which runs through January 25, 2015.

 Artist Glenn Kaino with a detail of a street mural near the Ashé Cultural Arts Center

Artist Andrea Fraser performing "Not just a few of us" at the New Orleans Museum of Art

 Artist Tavares Strachan celebrating his project on the Mississippi River

The Ribbon Cutting with Prospect New Orleans executive director Brooke Davis Anderson, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, First NBC Bank's CEO Ashton Ryan and Prospect New Orleans chairperson Susan Brennan at Washington Square Park

 Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator Christine Kim with Glenn Kaino's installation at CACNO

Actors Will Ferrell and Viveca Paulin with Tavares Strachan's project on the Mississippi River

New Orleans gallerist Arthur Roger with a Robert Colescott painting at his gallery

Orange County Museum of Art chief curator Dan Cameron and New Orleans Museum of Art curator Bill Fagaly with the P.3 Mobile Hub

 Dooky Chase's Restaurant owner Leah Chase watching over her creole and soul food being served at the ribbon cutting in Washington Square Park

Collector and philanthropist Toby Devon Lewis and New Museum director Lisa Phillips with work by Hew Locke at Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University

MoMA curators Thomas Lax and Stuart Comer and Whitney Museum curator Christopher Lew outside Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum curator Amy Smith-Stewart with paintings by Hayal Pozanti at CACNO

New York's Borolami Gallery director Christine Messeneo and artist Piero Golia at CACNO

Independent curator and artist Claire Tancons and artist Hew Locke with Locke's work at Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University

Artist Deborah Kass and Paul Kasmin director Clara Ha with Tavares Strachan's project on the Mississippi River

The Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner with Theaster Gates' piece at CACNO

Writer Eva Diaz and Rhizome editor and curator Michael Connor at Longue Vue House and Gardens

Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator and Prospect.3 New Orleans artistic director Franklin Sirmans and U.S. Biennial executive director Brooke Davis Anderson the Ashé Cultural Arts Center

Bronx Museum of the Arts director Holly Block at Longue Vue House and Gardens

LA gallerist Honor Fraser with Glenn Kaino's installation at CACNO

Independent curators Ingrid LaFleur and Shantrelle Lewis with an Ulrick Jean-Pierre painting at the George and Leah McKenna Museum of African American Art

Collectors Jan Greenberg and Marilyn Lowey with work by Lonnie Holley at Xavier University

New York gallerists Jane and James Cohan with a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture at NOMA

Artist Jeffrey Gibson with his work at the NOMA

CACNO visual arts manager Jennifer Francino and Westfield World Trade Center director of the Contemporary Art Initiative Isolde Brielmaier with work by Yun Fei-Ji at CACNO

New Orleans gallerist Jonathan Ferrera and artist Bradley McCallum outside the Ashé Cultural Arts Center

Artist Julio Cesar Morales of Los Jaichackers with part of the group's multimedia installation at the John Mitchell Center Studios

Chicago and Berlin gallerist Kavi Gupta outside the Treme Market Branch

Independent curator and writer Larry Ossei-Mensah with work by Lisa Sigal at CACNO

Art critic Lilly Wei, artist Joyce Siegel and interior designer and collector Sean Johnson at Longue Vue House and Gardens

Artist Lonnie Holley with one of his assemblages at Xavier University

Artist Lui Ding with his performers outside the Ashé Cultural Arts Center

Artist MacArthur Binion with one of his paintings at CACNO

Drawing Center director Brett Littman and curator Claire Gilman flanked by Drawing Center board members Iris Marden (L) Isabel Stainow Wilcox (R) at the NOMA

Miami Project, artMRKT San Francisco, artMRKT Hamptons and Texas Contemporary director Max Fishko with work by various artists at Jonathan Ferrera Gallery

Independent curator and writer Micaela Giovannotti and artist Emilio Perez with a detail of a street mural near the Ashé Cultural Arts Center

Newcomb Art Gallery director Monica Ramirez-Montagut and U.S. Biennial chairperson Susan Brennan with a sculpture by Andrea Fraser at the Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University

Chicago gallerist Monique Meloche and artist Ebony. G. Patterson with Patterson's work at the Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane Unviversity

Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans executive director Neil Barclay with a sculpture by Andrea Fraser at Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University

London's Hales Gallery co-founder Paul Hedge outside the Cook Fine Arts and Communication Center at Dillard University

Artist Pushpamala N. with a detail of a street mural near the Ashé Cultural Arts Center

Author Rebecca Snedecker, artist Anastasia Pelias and Washington DC's Curator's Office director Andrea Pollan with Pelias' painting installation at Octavia Gallery

Artist Remy Jungerman at Washington Square Park

Dean of USC Roski School of Fine Arts Rochelle Steiner with work by Monir Farmanfarmaian at Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University

The Proposition's Ronald Sosinski and Ellen Donahue with a MacArthur Binion painting at CACNO

Modern Painters executive editor Scott Indrisek and Vice President of Arts & Culture at Nadine Johnson & Associates Adam Abdalla grooving in the Second Line

Hauser & Wirth's Timo Kappeller and artist David Zink Yi at the CACNO cafe

Artist Will Ryman at the NOMA

Third Streaming's Yona Backer and Performa founder and director RoseLee Goldberg at CACNO

 

 

 

Paul Laster

Paul Laster is a writer, editor, independent curator, artist and lecturer. He is a New York desk editor at ArtAsiaPacific and a contributing editor at Whitehot and artBahrain. He was the founding editor of Artkrush.com and Artspace.com and art editor of Flavorpill.com and Russell Simmons's OneWorld Magazine; started TheDailyBeast.com's art section; and worked as a photojournalist for Artnet.com and Art in America. He is a frequent contributor to Time Out New York, New York Observer, Modern Painters, ArtPulse and ArtInfo.com.

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