By the ordinary way of reckoning such things, there are considerably fewer artists participating in this year’s Prospect.2 biennial in New Orleans than in the event’s first iteration three years ago. But if artist and provocateur William Pope.L’s piece for the exhibition turns out according to schedule, there will be a lot more artistic visions on view around New Orleans this fall than the smaller number of artists might lead you to expect.
Fans of visual art in the Crescent City should rejoice that there’s a new guide in town that will make things a little easier. Multi-disciplinary designer Erik Kiesewetter joined forces with three others to create a free printed bi-monthly gallery guide listing for the visual arts in New Orleans that launches next month, Catalogue.
When Hyperallergic editor Hrag V. asked me to guest edit this site in his absence a few weeks ago and bring a little bit of the Crescent City to the Brooklyn-based blogazine scene, I thought it might be an uneasy fit: after all, as A.J. Liebling memorably said in “The Earl of Louisiana” (though perhaps most memorably in the intro to “A Confederacy of Dunces”), “New Orleans resembles Genoa or Marseilles, or Beirut or the Egyptian Alexandria more than it does New York.”
The video opens with the sound of the tide, and a tight close-up of the artist bringing a stone from a shoreline to her mouth. She licks it slowly. The act, along with the sound of the sea, is both primal and sensual. The ritualized action is repeated, establishing a deep connection between the artist and the sea, as well as the viewer—it’s difficult not to imagine the sensation of the coolness of the smooth stone and the taste of salt in one’s mouth while watching it.
As geopsychically wondrous as New Orleans is, it’s not exactly the most cutting edge of places; in fact, even in these days of instantaneous communication it sometimes takes ideas and trends a little longer to make their way down here than they do elsewhere. But although we might not be au courant, we do do things down here with a certain kind of panache.
“These phenomenona, these wonders of New Orleans, are for the most part simply not explainable in terms of history and culture alone. There is obviously another force at work here, another system, a world of secret realities which is continuously and quietly in confrontation with our own.” In other words, folks: we’re not on Bourbon Street any more.
New York, I feel your pain. You’re hemorrhaging under the weight of your artistic success and accomplishments, bleeding out talent like Jackson Pollock after the car crash. I know it’s hard to keep all your children around while the rents keep rising and the scene gets hyped into the next century while it struggles to hold on to what it had in the last. Times are tough! But your loss is Louisiana’s gain …
Mention the name Kirsha Kaechele (assuming you can pronounce it) to folks in the New Orleans arts communities and you’re likely to hear a wide range of opinions—and her story brings up a host of interesting questions regarding the complex and often conflicting mix of motivations, ego, and consequences behind community-based art projects.
Although it’s currently one of New Orleans’ most happening neighborhoods, it’s easy for me to take the centuries-old Faubourg Marigny for granted since I’ve lived here ever since moving to New Orleans nearly fourteen years ago. I went for a walk today to remind myself how visually rich it is, and this is what I saw.
150 years after the conflict began, the Civil War provides the subject matter for a group show at the Good Children Gallery in New Orleans. But far from being a mere exercise in nostalgia,”Grant v. Lee”, curated by Sophie Lvoff, gave artists the opportunity to “gently and subtly evoke the times and culture of the Civil War while bringing up significant questions about race and nationalism that we continue to ask today.”
New Orleans artist Dave Greber’s video work addresses issues of optical phenomena and universal spirituality. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
New Orleans is a city of excess: we eat more good food, show more skin (at least during Carnival season), and have more fun than just about any other city in the United States, or anywhere. And when the Prospect.1 art biennial rolled into town in the fall of 2008, we could add “see more great art” to that list as well. Hopes were high that the followup would match or even exceed the scope and ambition of curator Dan Cameron’s first installment (81 artists! 39 countries! 22 venues!). But it’s not 2008 any more, and Prospect New Orleans has become subject to the New Austerity too.