Sunday, November 2, 2014

Space Rites, Public Practice and Gun Buyback

One of the great things about the Prospect New Orleans art expos is the plethora of surprising unaffiliated events that they inspire. New Orleans Airlift always seems to rise to the occasion, and this year their Space Rites in the Lower 9th Ward takes us to previously uncharted territory. In a substantial old baroque church on St. Maurice Ave. stands a tall altar stacked with dozens of defunct TV sets transformed by lead Airlift artist Taylor Lee Shepherd into glowing oscilloscopes that respond to sound with gyrating graphical vortexes of light. Dubbed "resurrection technology" by Rev. Charles Duplessis, who incorporates them into his Sunday morning services, their mystical aura was evident on Sunday evening, Oct. 26th, when the Murmurations alternative folk choir joined the Lower 9th Ward Senior Center Gospel Choir for the first concert of the series, above. There old time religion met avant garde innovation as the Murmurations' haunting polyphony interacted with the gospel ladies' spirited singing--they even substituted "9th Ward spirit" for "old time religion" in the song of the same name. The church, arranged by Jeanne Nathan's Creative Alliance of New Orleans, is the perfect venue for such festive down home otherworldliness.

Airlift also staged an elaborate 8th Ward street culture festival coinciding with Prospect.3's opening on Oct. 25th. Organized by Airlift director Delaney Martin and independent curator Claire Tancons, Public Practice promised "Queens, Rappers, Dancers, Horses, Snakes, Doves, Cars and Bikes" but delivered even more: imagine a tricked out St. Roch version of a renaissance fair. It also complemented former St. Roch gallerist Kirsha Kaechele's adjacent six-figure gun buyback and free music recording studio. Both events were  underwritten by spouse David Walsh's famously quirky Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania. Here Kaechele's penchant for extravagant surreality created a serene setting for cops to receive Saturday night specials and sawed off shotguns to the silky sounds of a solo cellist under muted blue and purple lighting a world apart from the boisterous carnival of rappers, drummers and dancers reverberating outside. ~Bookhardt

Space Rites: Metaphysical Mixed Media - New Orleans Airlift @  605 St. Maurice Ave. Interactive Installation; Oct. 26, Nov. 22 - Nakatani Gong Orchestra; Dec. 13-TBA; Jan. 7-TBA, all @ 7pm.