Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Prospect.4: "The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp" Explores "the Interconnectedness of All Things"


Syzygy by Maria Berio
Five Moons by Katherine Bradford
The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, the title of Prospect.4, the latest iteration of the Prospect New Orleans international art triennial, is as colorfully mysterious as its name implies. Like its predecessors, starting with Prospect founder Dan Cameron's stellar, critically acclaimed Prospect.1 in 2008-09, Prospect.4 makes the city itself part of the show — sometimes to an extent that makes it hard to tell where the art begins and the city recedes. While it also has its share of art stars, Prospect.4's artistic director Trevor Schoonmaker, curator at Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art, saw the city's upcoming 300th birthday as a way to artistically reunite the city with the broader world that made it a global city almost from the start.

"New Orleans is the most European and the most African city in the United States," Schoonmaker said while overseeing installation of works at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). "It is called the northernmost Caribbean city and is still distinctly of, and in, the American South ... its rich history and culture provide boundless inspiration for artists from all over the world."

Indeed, many of their works were created with this city's tumultuous history in mind. As Mayor Mitch Landrieu notes in his catalog essay, Prospect.4 "connects over three centuries of history through the work of 70-plus contemporary artists who have responded to the city's unique cultural and natural landscape ... Drawing synergistic parallels between New Orleans and other parts of the world, P.4 aims to illuminate the interconnectedness of all things, both seen and unseen."

If such ideas sound idealistic, they also set the stage for a better understanding of what Prospect.4 is all about and what it represents. The triennial opened Nov. 18 and runs through Feb. 25, 2018, and there is much to see. Prospect exhibitions are in museums and galleries and there are installations and sculptures in public spaces and parks, including Crescent Park, Lafitte Greenway and Algiers Point. >>Continued>>

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Water Tables by Jennifer Odem 

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