Attention Art World Insiders: Prospect New Orleans Isn’t Just for You Anymore

A new public work by Kara Walker and a streetcar performance by Derrick Adams are among 30 site-specific projects that aim to bring the art out into the city.

Genevieve Gaignard's White Rain (2017). Image courtesy the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, LA.
Genevieve Gaignard's White Rain (2017). Image courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, LA.

A haunting concert on a riverbank orchestrated by Kara Walker, a field station for an imaginary marine biologist designed by Mark Dion, and nearly a dozen portraits by the late Barkley L. Hendricks are among the projects planned for Prospect.4, the fourth edition of the New Orleans triennial exhibition, which is scheduled to open on November 18 (through February 28, 2018).

The show will include work by 73 artists, including Rashid Johnson, Kader Attia, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Alfredo Jaar. But for every name on the list that is familiar, there is another that is new to the biennial circuit, such as Hong-An Truong, a New York- and Chapel Hill-based photographer and video artist, and Monique Verdin, a New Orleans-born, Native American filmmaker and storyteller.

“I’m always interested in bringing in artists who have had little exposure or who have had not as much attention as I feel they should get,” says the triennial’s artistic director Trevor Schoonmaker, who is also the chief curator at Duke University’s Nasher Museum. 

Monique Verdin’s Bayou Pointe Aux Chenes, Terrebonne, Louisiana (2008). Image courtesy of the artist.

The list also includes more artists who are based outside typical market hubs like New York, Berlin, and London than artists working within them. (The triennial will have 15 more participants than the previous edition, Prospect.3.)

Above all, Schoonmaker says that the organizing principle of the show is the city itself. The exhibition coincides with New Orleans’s tricentennial celebration—the 300th anniversary of the founding of Nouvelle-Orléans by the French in 1718.

More than 30 of the artists in Prospect.4—including Walker and Dion—will create new work specifically for the occasion. Around 10% of the artists hail from the New Orleans area, and the others make work that deals with “issues or themes that are central to New Orleans or to its history,” Schoonmaker tells artnet News. 

This approach marks something of a departure for Prospect, which was founded by Dan Cameron in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as an ambitious gambit to lure the international art world—and their deep pockets—to the still-recovering city.

Louis Armstrong’s Gems from Buenos (c. 1960). Image courtesy of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Queens, New York.

The well-reviewed first edition included splashy site-specific installations by international artists—but also amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. (After the 2011 edition, Prospect’s board split the roles of artistic director and executive director into two, and stabilized its finances.) 

Prospect.3, curated by Franklin Sirmans in 2014, was celebrated as one of the most racially diverse biennials in recent history, but some complained that the sprawling event was difficult to navigate and not fully embraced by locals. This year, it officially switches from a biennial to a triennial schedule (although it had been operating on that schedule for several years already).

For his part, Schoonmaker has made it a priority to get locals interested first—and the international art world, he hopes, will follow. “Because Prospect is so young, there is a need for it to feel rooted here—to not only try and lure the international art world to New Orleans but to still get the local community, the regional artgoers, to want to buy in and embrace it as their own,” he says. “We want to be getting to communities that don’t always go and see art.”

Rebecca Belmore activating her work Ayum-ee-aawach Oomamamowan: Speaking to Their Mother (1991) at Banff National Park, as part of the exhibition Bureau de Change, presented by the Walter Phillips Gallery, Alberta, Canada, 2008.

In fact, instead of asking people to come to the art, Schoonmaker plans to bring the art out into the city. Kara Walker, for example, is teaming up with Jazz pianist Jason Moran to create her first major work of public art since 2014’s A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby (better known as the giant sugar sphinx).

The work—which is also her first major sound piece—is an instrument that is part-organ, part-steamboat that emits protest songs on the bank of the Mississippi River. The location, Algiers Point, is carefully chosen: it’s the site where slaves were kept in quarantine before they were brought to New Orleans.

The artist Odili Donald Odita, meanwhile, will install a series of flags throughout the city to mark “culturally, historically, or racially historic sites” centered around the Algiers Ferry Terminal. And Yoko Ono will recreate her text work, Have You Seen a Horizon Lately?, first conceived in 1966, both on a billboard and an outdoor wall. 

Barkley L. Hendricks’ Photo Bloke (2016). Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York © Barkley L. Hendricks.

In an effort catch get both tourists and locals on the go, the artist Derrick Adams will create a multimedia installation inside a fully operational streetcar. “The streetcar will become like his gallery, his cube,” Schoonmaker says. “He’s dealing with the street performers—young guys, mostly tap dancers, that he sees working on the side of the road.” Schoonmaker, who gave Barkley L. Hendricks his first museum show, also plans to present around a dozen portraits from 1970 to 2016 that were not part of the 2008 retrospective he organized, “Birth of the Cool.”

“I want to make sure we are addressing issues that aren’t just for the insider art world,” Schoonmaker says. “To make sure that Prospect survives, that is a critical element—for it to take root and really live.”

Here is the full artist list for Prospect.4: “The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp.”

Larry Achiampong
b. 1984 London, United Kingdom
Resides in London

Derrick Adams
b. 1970 Baltimore, MD
Resides in Brooklyn, NY

Abbas Akhavan
b. 1977 Tehran, Iran
Resides in Toronto, Canada

John Akomfrah
b. 1957 Accra, Ghana
Resides in London

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
b. 1983 Enugu, Nigeria
Resides in Los Angeles

Michael Armitage
b. 1984 Nairobi, Kenya
Resides in Nairobi, Kenya and London, UK

Louis Armstrong
b. 1901 New Orleans, LA
d. 1971 Corona, Queens, NY

Kader Attia
b. 1970 Paris, France
Resides in Berlin, Germany and Algiers, Algeria

Radcliffe Bailey
b. 1968 Bridgetown, NJ
Resides in Atlanta, GA

Rina Banerjee
b. 1963 Kolkata, India
Resides in New York, NY

Rebecca Belmore
b. 1960 Upsala, Ontario, Canada
Resides in Vancouver, Canada

Maria Berrio
b. 1982 Bogota, Colombia
Resides in Brooklyn, NY

Sonia Boyce
b. 1962 London, United Kingdom
Resides in London

Katherine Bradford
b. 1942 New York, NY
Resides in Brooklyn, NY and Brunswick, ME

Margarita Cabrera
b. 1973 Monterrey, Mexico
Resides in El Paso, TX

María Magdalena Campos-Pons
b. 1959 Matanzas, Cuba
Resides in Boston, MA

Andrea Chung
b. 1978 Newark, NJ
Resides in San Diego, CA

Edgar Cleijne & Ellen Gallagher
b. 1963 Eindhoven, Netherlands
b. 1965 Providence, RI
Reside in Rotterdam, Netherlands & New York, NY

Donna Conlon & Jonathan Harker
b. 1966 Atlanta, GA
d. 1975, Quito, Ecuador
Reside in Panama City

Minerva Cuevas
b. 1975 Mexico City
Resides in Mexico City

Wilson Díaz
b. 1963 Pitalito, Colombia
Resides in Berlin, Germany

Mark Dion
b. 1961 New Bedford, Massachusetts
Resides in New York, NY

Alexis Esquivel
b. 1968, La Palma, Pinar del Rio, Cuba
Resides in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Genevieve Gaignard
b. 1981 Orange, MA
Resides in Los Angeles, CA

Gauri Gill & Rajesh Vangad
b. 1970 New Delhi, India
b.1975 India
Reside in New Delhi & Ganjad, India

Tony Gleaton
b. 1948 Detroit, MI
d. 2015 Palo Alto, CA

Jon-Sesrie Goff
b. 1983 Hartford, CT
Resides in Washington, D.C.

Wayne Gonzales
b. 1957 New Orleans, LA
Resides in New York, NY

Barkley L. Hendricks
b. 1945 Philadelphia, PA
d. 2017 New London, CT

Satch Hoyt
b. 1957 London, United Kingdom
Resides in Berlin

Evan Ifekoya
b. 1988, Iperu, Nigeria
Resides in London

Alfredo Jaar
b. 1956 Santiago, Chile
Resides in New York, NY

Rashid Johnson
b. 1977 Chicago, IL
Resides in New York, NY

Kahlil Joseph
b. 1981 Seattle, WA
Resides in Los Angeles, CA

Patricia Kaersenhout
b. 1966 Den Helder, Netherlands
Resides in Amsterdam

Brad Kahlhamer
b. 1956 Tucson, AZ
Resides in Brooklyn, NY

Kiluanji Kia Henda
b. 1979 Luanda, Angola
Resides in Luanda, Angola & Lisbon, Portugal

Taiyo Kimura
b. 1970 Kamakura, Japan
Resides in Kamakura, Japan

The Kitchen Sisters: Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva
Founded in 1980

Reside in San Francisco & Santa Cruz, CA
with Otabenga Jones & Associates
Founded in 2002, Houston, TX

Runo Lagomarsino
b. 1977 Lund, Sweden
Resides in Malmö, Sweden & São Paulo, Brazil

Pedro Lasch
b. 1975 Mexico City
Resides in Durham, NC

Maider López
b. 1975 San Sebastian, Spain
Resides in San Sebastian, Spain

Jillian Mayer
b. 1984 Miami, FL
Resides in Miami, FL

Darryl Montana
b. 1955 New Orleans, LA
Resides in New Orleans, LA

Dave Muller
b. 1964 San Francisco, CA
Resides in Los Angeles, CA

Lavar Munroe
b.1982 Nassau, Bahamas
Resides in Germantown, MD, and Nassau, Bahamas

Paulo Nazareth
b. 1977 Governador Valadares, Brazil
Resides in Sao Paolo, Brazil

Rivane Neuenschwander
b. 1967 Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Resides in London

Jennifer Odem
b. 1962 New Orleans, LA
Resides in New Orleans, LA

Odili Donald Odita
b. 1966 Enugu, Nigeria
Resides in Philadelphia, PA

Yoko Ono
b. 1933 Tokyo, Japan
Resides in New York, NY

Horace Ové
b. 1939 Port of Spain, Trinidad
Resides in London, UK

Zak Ové
b. 1966 London, UK
Resides in London and Trinidad

Dawit L. Petros
b. 1972 Asmara, Eritrea
Resides in New York, NY and Chicago, IL

Quintron and Miss Pussycat
Reside in New Orleans, LA

Dario Robleto
b. 1972 San Antonio, TX
Resides in Houston, TX

Tita Salina
b. 1973 Plaju, South Sumatra, Indonesia
Resides in Jakarta, Indonesia

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
b. 1972 San Juan, Puerto Rico
Resides in San Juan

Zina Saro-Wiwa
b. 1976 Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Resides in Brooklyn, NY

John T. Scott
b. 1940 New Orleans, LA
d. 2007 Houston, TX

Zineb Sedira
b. 1963 Paris, France
Resides in London

Xaviera Simmons
b. 1974 New York, NY
Resides in Brooklyn, NY

Penny Siopis
b. 1953 Vryburg, South Africa
Resides in Cape Town

Cauleen Smith
b. 1967 Riverside, CA
Resides in Chicago, IL

Hank Willis Thomas
b. 1976 Plainfield, NJ
Resides in Brooklyn, NY

Hong-An Truong
b. 1976 Gainesville, FL
Resides in New York, NY & Chapel Hill, NC

Naama Tsabar
b. 1982 Israel
Resides in New York, NY

Michel Varisco
b. 1967 New Orleans, LA
Resides in New Orleans, LA

Monique Verdin
b. 1980 New Orleans, LA
Resides in Arabi, Louisiana

Kara Walker
b. 1969 Stockton, CA
Resides in New York, NY

James Webb
b. 1975 Kimberley, South Africa
Resides in Cape Town

Jeff Whetstone
b. 1968 Chattanooga, TN
Resides in Princeton, NJ

Peter Williams
b. 1952 Nyack, NY
Resides in Wilmington, DE

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