Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Everything in New Orleans Is a Good Idea

I was offered an opportunity to go to New Orleans recently that unfortunately I was unable to take advantage of. A small part of me was actually somewhat relieved. I haven't been back since Katrina. The city is already overloaded with bittersweet memories for me...like Venice, it's one of those magically unworldly places in my mind...so much better than mankind usually manages that it makes you believe in God. Truly, of all the cities in America to let go down like that...without marshaling every last resources we had to try and save it...suggests to me that this country more than lost its way during the Bush years...it let its soul get lost in the wilderness as well.

Some of what was lost is being regained, though. Through art, no less. This Saturday, New Orleans is opening what's being billed as the largest exhibition of contemporary art ever held on American soil: Prospect.1 New Orleans, and I suspect the spontaneous parades will be plentiful:
On November 1, 2008, Prospect.1 New Orleans [P.1], the largest biennial of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States, will open to the public in museums, historic buildings, and found sites throughout New Orleans. Prospect.1 New Orleans [P.1] has been conceived in the tradition of the great international biennials, and will showcase new artistic practices as well as an array of programs benefiting the local community. Over the course of its eleven-week run, Prospect.1 New Orleans [P.1] plans to draw international media attention, creative energy, and new economic activity to the city of New Orleans.
Folks in New York have been talking about this star-studded biennial for months now, some skeptical, some in awe of the energy going into the effort. From an article in the New York Times today, you get a sense that the organizers have more than pulled it off...they've created something truly important:
Dan Cameron, the impresario behind Prospect.1 and a former senior curator at the New Museum in New York, said that as he was planning the biennial, a friend frequently reminded him of a quotation from Bob Dylan’s “Chronicles”: “Everything in New Orleans is a good idea.”

Prospect.1, Mr. Cameron said, is “just 81 people running around with good ideas, and basically everyone they meet goes, ‘Oh yeah, sure, I’ll help.’ ”

“It is American,” he continued, “but it’s no longer what we think of as American — it’s drop what you’re doing and go do what your neighbor’s doing.”

This is, after all, the city of spontaneous parades.

Mr. Cameron said he was careful to select artists for the first Prospect who would attract critics and collectors but were not divas whose expectations might exceed the abilities of a first-time exhibition on a shoestring budget of $3.2 million.
Prospect.1 has a blog as well. Check it out here.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Cedric C said...

Excellent News! (I didn't know).


In the debate Art Fair VS Biennial I much prefer Biennial. At least you can take your time to visit them, and the artists are conscious of the fact that people go there to apprehend great art, not to look for something to fill their living room.


+++not divas whose expectations +++might exceed the abilities of a +++first-time exhibition



Pouha haha!

That's one message that I hope will cross through the right minds.


Cedric C

10/29/2008 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Edward Richards said...

Thanks for the heads up! They must be still working through bugs in their PR - I live in Baton Rouge (80 miles away), am regularly in New Orleans, and this is the first I have heard of this.

BTW, while much of the areas north and east of the Quarter and Garden District are still a mess, the Quarter, the Museum district, and the Garden District are in great shape. For a look at the rest, you might be interested in:

http://www.epr-art.com/katrina/html/index.htm

10/29/2008 10:01:00 PM  

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