Sunday, October 30, 2011

PROSPECT.2: SOME FIRST IMPRESSIONS

  

Prospect.1 was a hard act to follow. It was big, sometimes gaudy, sometimes subtle, but always substantial and very expensive, with cost overruns exceeding a million dollars. Prospect.2 is more modest—its 27 artist roster is one third the size of P.1's—and its exhibitions are far less extravagant.  It was hard to get any sense of what it would look like from its eclectic mix of featured artists slated for various venues that were always changing, but now that it's open it can truthfully be said that former director Dan Cameron has again pulled a rabbit out of his hat. It's not knock your socks off like P.1, but it is an intriguing expo with an intimate quality that may be more appropriate for these financially  constrained times. What makes it work is Cameron's intuitive genius for weaving the art with various parts of the city in ways that can be unexpected or occasionally even epiphanous.



I'm not big on Sophie Calle, whose word and image narratives can seem repetitious, but her tiny text panels at the 1850 House in the Pontalba Apartments are deftly subversive in that setting. Similarly, William Eggleston's rarely seen black and white portraits work well with his bizarre STRANDED IN CANTON video vignettes, left, of crazed Memphis and Mississippi folk acting out back in those hazy old Wild Turkey and Quaaludes days of 1974. Like a Hunter S. Thompson romp through Faulkner country with Tom Waits overtones, it strangely complements An-My Le's delicate photos of Vietnamese hamlets on the Mekong Delta and in New Orleans East, and Ragnar Kjartansson's video encounters with Louisiana's soulful music and landscape, top, in the austere elegance of the old U.S. Mint on Esplanade. The view at the Contemporary Arts Center--where Dan Tague's sardonic multimedia agitprop exploration of the U.S. Department of Civil Obedience, bottom, shares space with Alexis Rockman's vast Darwinian panorama painting of predatory beasts battling to the death, above, and George Dunbar's tribute to ab/ex action painting--is a bit more variegated, with works by Jonas Dahlberg, Karl Haendel, Gina Phillips, Grazia Toderi and Ozawa Tsuyoshi rounding out the show. Like its predecessor, Prospect.2 seems to have brought out the best in some elements of our burgeoning community of emerging artists. The most spectacular single thing I saw on P.2's opening Saturday was actually at a satellite facility, at a performance of New Orleans Airlift's MUSIC BOX installation of musical shanties, below, fanciful huts constructed from old house parts as playable electronic and acoustic musical instruments. Curated by Delaney Martin, Swoon and Theo Eliezer, and conducted by maestro Martin Quintron, it fulfilled art's original function as an expression of metaphysical magic. It was truly unforgettable. ~Bookhardt


Through Jan. 29, 2012, Various Venues, 756-6438, www.prospectneworleans.org