NOLA///FIRST LOOK: THE MONUMENTAL NEW ORLEANS BIENNIAL

November 3, 2008  |  art, New Orleans, News

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Mark Bradford's "Ark" proves hope still floats in New Orleans...

Widely considered to be the single most important art event of 2008, the first-ever NEW ORLEANS BIENNIAL, "Prospect.1" curated by art world heavy and former New Museum senior curator DAN CAMERON opened this Saturday in an effort to revitalize the area's art culture. Featuring a star-filled roster of 81 artists including heavyweights like CAI GUO QIANG, TONY FITZPATRICK, GAJIN FUJITA, ADAM CVIJANOVIC, YASUMASA MORIMURA, FRED TOMASELLI, ROBIN RHODE, PIERRE ET GILLES, SHIRIN NESHAT, MALICK SIDIBE, CAO FEI, and MONICA BONVICINI, and a projected 50,000 visitors from out of town the event is exactly the powerhouse art event the city needs at a point when the country has largely forgotten the legacy of Katrina and moved on. With satellite installations spread out across the city, often utilizing areas ravaged by Katrina including abandoned houses and now vacant lots the exhibition has brought the residents of the city together in an unprecedented show of cooperation as residents have volunteered by the hundreds to act as docents, provide exhibition sites, and assist the artists throughout the installation process. In order to understand the cultural impact Katrina has had on the New Orleans, almost every participating artist, visited the city to experience the devastation firsthand. In an interview with the NY TIMES, 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." The result was a true show of artistic force by a dedicated roster of participants whose international origins reflect the inherent milieu of the town. Perhaps the most visually impactful work of the show comes from artist MARK BRADFORD, who built a three-story ark in an area of the Lower Ninth Ward that suffered some of the worst flooding following Katrina. As one observer noted when observing the work, "hope floats." HAVE A LOOK:

Read the NY TIMES article HERE

Photos by JONNO and COURTNEY SEXTON

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Mark Bradford's "Ark" runs aground at the Bienniel...

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...and looks like something Katrina left behind.

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McCallum & Terry, "The Evidence Of Things Not Seen"
Installation view, New Orleans African American Museum

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Tony Fitzpatrick, "A Thousand Beautiful Things"
Installation view, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation

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Leandro Ehrlich, "Too Late For Help"
Installation view, Lower 9th Ward

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Katharina Grosse, "Untitled"
Installation view, Lower 9th War

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Xu Bing, "Book From The Ground Up"
Installation view, New Orleans Museum of Art

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Fred Tomaselli
Installation view, Old U.S. Mint

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Ghada Amer, "Happy Ever After (2005)"
Installation view, Lower 9th Ward

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Nari Ward, "Diamond Gym (2008)"
Installation View, Battle Ground Baptist Church, Lower 9th Ward

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Monica Bonvicini, "Desire"
Installation view, New Orleans Museum of Art

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Local flavor remains intact...

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