Rebuilding the Myth of New Orleans | Review by Jill Conner
As Liza Minnelli attempts to fill the shoes of her mother at New York City's infamous Palace Theater, the true Judy Garland comeback is taking place in New Orleans, LA with the launch of Prospect.1. This city-wide biennial opened on November 1st and showcases a smattering of contemporary art that will most likely be long remembered after the exhibition's close on January 18th, 2009. Intended to put the city of New Orleans back on the map, biennial director, Dan Cameron, extends this show into a number of neighborhoods and historic buildings in order to bring people of this city back together. For those who will not have a chance to travel to New Orleans before this event closes, New York's Asteriskpix assembled a collection of artist documentaries that provide a small glimpse of what has transpired in that city.
A small clip that features a sculptural installation within the once-destroyed Battleground Baptist Church, captures the extreme loss that still exists throughout the 9th Ward. Dan Cameron and one of the artists tours the church that is currently in the process of getting rebuilt and walks into the main room where a larger-than-life-sized diamond made of black piping stands in the center. As a mixed media sculpture that features the sounds of historic speeches made by an array of popular African-American preachers, this particular installation attempts to revive history of the Battleground Baptist Church which served as a cornerstone of the African-American community from 1867 to 1964.
Performance artist Janine Antoni, on the other hand, places a large wrecking ball culled from the storm's wreckage within a warehouse setting and juxtaposes it with a large video close-up of her eye that reflects a tiny glint of light to one side. For Asteriskpix, the artist embraced both her Caribbean heritage and the city's Cajun history by wearing the costume of a pirate and, with a patch over one eye, discussed how she created this tiny, scant reflection.
However if New Orleans needs anything out of this event of mass destruction, it's money. Srdjan Loncar from the ArtEgg Studios transformed vast numbers of wood blocks into stacks of dollar bills that became part of two sculptures titled "Value," (2008) and "$48,000,000." (2008) Hopefully the cultural center of New Orleans will not go the way of Blues music, a genre that existed long before audio recordings but noticeably shifted and dwindled in strength as a result of time.