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Pre-order our book YOU ARE AN ARTIST (which includes new assignments!) here: We visited New Orleans for the Prospect.3 exhibition and saw some fantastic art by Carrie Mae Weems, Camille Henrot, Shigeru Ban, Kerry James Marshall, and Tavares Strachan. Let's talk about it!

More information on Prospect.3 New Orleans:
Hey, guys, we're in New Orleans today, where it is strangely very cold, and we're outside of the McKenna Museum of African American Art, and this is a venue that's part of Prospect.3, this art exhibition curated by Franklin Sirmans that happens every three years.  Inside here is work by Carrie Mae Weems, and we're gonna go check it out, and then we're gonna go explore other venues that are part of Prospect.3 throughout the city.       Once inside, I was immediately reminded of how much I enjoy seeing art in places that are not cold, white galleries or former industrial loft type places.  Sure, it's nice sometimes, but this restored antebellum home is warm, has a palpable history, and is a fitting setting for Carrie Mae Weems's work, like her Louisiana project, where she photographed herself in front of Civil War era architecture to explore her and our relationship to the history of slavery.     There was also her amazing video installation: Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me--A Story in 5 Parts.  She used an old optical illusion trick called Pepper's Ghost to project 3D looking figures onto a stage.  You're gonna have to trust me that it works really, really well, and the progression of characters you experience of different times, classes, races, and genders both haunt you and ask you to consider your own place in the story.    So one of the best things about Prospect is that it takes you to parts of the city you probably wouldn't have otherwise visited.  I could easily go to New Orleans and only eat fancy donuts and drink myself into a coma, maybe stop at a museum or two, but now I've seen this incredible work plus I got to experience the McKenna Museum and their collection.   Ditto for the next place we went, Longue Vue House and Gardens, which is the former estate of some very well-to-do and philanthropic New Orleanians.  Most of the place was functioning as it normally does, hosting home and garden tours, but there were also a few Prospect installations here.  A super strong video work by Camille Henrot, Grosse Fatigue, which begins and ends with a desktop computer screen and shows us an overwhelming and entrancing sequence of images and video, much filmed at the Smithsonian museum.     I marveled the whole time about how peculiar we humans are. What we decide to preserve, make note of, historicize, categorize, and how we explain and process images and information from the past and from today. These thoughts were also on my mind as I went on to see a display of works in the Gate House, by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.  Here we were in this stately home, carefully preserved and maintained by its keepers and the community, where we're also given the chance to learn about Ban's practice of making disaster relief shelters and inexpensive housing out of recycled materials, including documentation of the post-Katrina house he made in the lower-9th ward of New Orleans.  It's a small, quiet installation, but for me, it made sense in this setting and made me ask: What is successful architecture and whose homes are important?   We visited several other Prospect sites, including a Basquiat exhibition at the Ogden Museum.  A delightfully unexpected display by Kerry James Marshall in the windows of the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, and installation of works at the New Orleans Museum of Art that we couldn't photograph, a really nice installation of works at the Newcomb Art Gallery that I tried to photograph but got in trouble with a guard and had to delete, as well as the largest exhibition of the show at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans.  In all these locations, you could read the intro text for the show, written by its artistic director, Franklin Sirmans, who gave it the title "Notes for Now."  He talks about Walker Percy's 1961 novel, The Moviegoer, which is set in New Orleans, and the narrator's personal search on the eve of his 30th birthday.  Sirmans says, "The third prospect biennial is invested in and will explore 'The Search' to find the self and the necessity of the other as part of that quest."  Sure, it's artspeaky, but I found this a really compelling framework for the show.  Sirmans ends the text with questions pulled from Percy's novel: Where do we come from?  What are we?  Where are we going?  And these are what I kept asking myself as I traveled around the city seeing the show.     Lots of press who came opening weekend complained about how disjointed the show was, how difficult some of the venues were to find, how many locals weren't even aware that it was happening, but those people broke the cardinal rule of enjoying an art show, and that's don't go during the opening.  Sure, you miss special performances, but you get to see the show on its own terms, without laboring under the delusion that the whole city should bow down and be grateful for your presence.  I do think that for Prospect to keep happening, it will eventually need to be embraced by its own city, but I can see the point of locals who don't pay attention to it.     New Orleans is a spectacular cultural phenomenon without this show.  It has copious places worth visiting without it, and it has a healthy community of artists making good and relevant work.  But I think Prospect is an invaluable resource for the city and those who visit it, to bring other voices here every few years who raise important questions, questions that make me appreciate the complexity of this gnarly and frustrating, but beautiful city.  I didn't get to see the whole show, not even close, but I still spent an enriching day exploring the fantastically complicated city of New Orleans.  I missed the kind of keynote work for P.3, that was Tavares Strachan's You Belong Here, a large neon sign that read exactly that, strapped to a barge floating down the Mississippi River.  I'm not sure if the message was directed at the city's residents or the art tourists who came from elsewhere to see it, but the ambiguity is strategic, who belongs in this place?  Do you?  Do I?  Do the people who live there?  Which ones?  These are good questions to ask wherever you live, and I hope the next Prospect asks entirely new ones and takes me to entirely new parts of the city.