The Big Easy hosts a rollicking contemporary art show beginning this weekend, featuring a floating artwork by Tavares Strachan and an exhibition of models by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, among many other attractions. Set to open this weekend, "Prospect 3: Notes for Now," the third installment of New Orleans's contemporary art biennial (Oct. 25, 2014-Jan. 25, 2015), is a city-wide extravaganza held at 18 venues. A number of adjunct exhibitions and performances accompany the main event.
Curator Franklin Sirmans, artistic director of this installment and head of the contemporary art department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, chose 58 international artists whose works relate in varying degrees to the exhibition's theme, inspired by Walker Percy's 1961 novel The Moviegoer, which tells of the soul-searching adventures of a New Orleans stockbroker during Mardi Gras. "I wanted to create an exhibition that would be international in scope, yet directly relate to the city of New Orleans," Sirmans told A.i.A. at the press preview.
Prospect 3 highlights the works of well-known artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Theaster Gates, Camille Henrot and MacArthur "genius" Carrie Mae Weems, in the company of a number of rising stars, including Glenn Kaino (USA) and Ebony G. Patterson (Jamaica). As has become the fashion at international biennials, the show also includes unconventional choices like Ban and historical masters such as Paul Gauguin.
Among the highlights of the satellite events, "Basquiat and the Bayou" (Oct. 25, 2014-Jan. 25, 2015), at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, traces the connections between the late artist's work and the cultural life of New Orleans. Strachan helped launch the biennial with You Belong Here, a giant pink neon sign spelling out those welcoming words, installed on a barge floating on the Mississippi.
Previous incarnations of the show have attracted over 50,000 visitors and generated more than $25 million in local revenue. "An important aspect of Prospect 3, unlike many other international biennials, is that this one is free to the public," Prospect New Orleans executive director Brooke Davis Anderson told A.i.A. "Except for a few participating museums that will charge regular admission, all of the venues and events are free to everyone."