New Orleans exhibits international artists

Artist Will Ryman's painted stainless steel art piece displayed as part of the
Pospect.3 city-wide art exhibit in New Orleans, La. 
Couresy of Will Ryman and Paul Kasmin Gallery

The colorful and lively city of New Orleans stands out as a place full of art in all styles and forms. New Orleans is currently hosting an international contemporary art biennial similar to those in Venice and other famous cities around the world for the third time. 

The theme for this years Prospect.3 is Notes for Now with the underlining theme of borderless searching and borderless identity. P.3 curator Franklin Sirmans found artists from Argentina to Turkey to our own city of New Orleans who have created art through the journey of searching.

P.3: “Notes for Now” was founded on the idea of famous international exhibitions by New York curator Dan Cameron in 2008 after visiting flood-damaged New Orleans. The exhibit will feature work from 58 artists around the globe. 

“Prospect.1 and Prospect.2 did not have a theme, so this is our first biennial with a theme,” said Brooke Davis Anderson, executive director of P.3. “The idea behind the theme is the search we all take to understand ourselves and one another. Each of the artists have, in one way or another, explored that journey.”

Some names in the exhibit include New York’s Jean-Michel Basquiat, Manal Al Dowayan of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Bourouissa of Algeria and Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick of New Orleans.

The married photographers, Calhoun and McCormick will have their photographs featured in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on the fourth flour photo gallery. The couple documents the African-American community in New Orleans and surrounding areas, focusing on culture, traditions, labors, hidden struggles and recently the prison industry of Angola.

“We chose the prisons because it’s one of the largest businesses in the state right now,” said Calhoun. “Some of them are still run like plantations in the old days. If you look at the picture, you can see through time not much has changed, because of the imagery of the men working in the field, and [they] still toll all day and are still under the same system of slavery.”

The couple has gone into the prison and shot photos capturing the idea that prisons can be a form of slavery today.

“Some people need to be incarcerated, but because you are incarcerated, you do not need to be dehumanized or treated as though you are a slave,” said McCormick. “Prison is no place to be and Angola is no place to be and we have a lot of young people that are at risk.” 

The driving factor to begin the P.1 exhibit in 2008 was the social and financial benefits it would bring to a post-disaster city, as many of the visitors are out of town.

P.1 was the largest art exhibit in New Orleans history and directly impacted the economy with $25 million through cost of hotels, food and more. The budget for P.3 is $3.5 million, $1 million less than P.1. This year’s exhibit will be a smaller show, helping reduce the budget. 

P.3 began Oct. 25 and will last for 13 weeks until Jan. 25. The exhibit will be held in 18 different venues around the city and is free and open to the public. The event will be held Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the exception of major holidays, although individual museum admission fees will remain in place.

“I’m very excited. I think we can both probably express the same feelings,” said McCormick. “I’m happy to be a part of Prospect.3 and I’m happy to be a part of all of this. It’s a privilege.”