Monday, January 19, 2009

Prospect 1 in New Orleans

Although I spent most of my time in New Orleans at the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) meeting or hanging out with other social work researchers, I did have a couple hours on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday to check out some of the Prospect 1 art exhibits, including the ones at the New Orleans Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center, and the old U.S. Mint.

I want to write about some of what I saw.

Skylar Fein's installation about an arson attack on a bar that killed 32 guys was especially disturbing, mainly because he included huge blown-up photographs of charred corpses from the scene. That was horrific. Another disturbing spectacle was the installation by Stephen G. Rhodes. I somewhat enjoyed certain aspects of the energy and anger and spookiness in his piece, but it was hard to take, and one doctoral student from USC who was with me had to get out of the room quickly; she could only take a few seconds of the experience.
Thought provoking? I think I was especially moved to contemplation and reflection by Yasumasa Morimura's photographic tableaus based on Goya works and his film of himself behaving and acting like Charlie Chaplin's immitation of Adolf Hitler from "The Great Dictator" along and making odd observations ("we are dictators to stones, to tiny animals," etc.). Kalup Linzy's surrealistic soap opera featuring himself as a female character was also hard to believe, but it seemed to cover the basic problems of jealousy, love, and lust with detachment and ridicule.
Inspiring or fun? I liked Candice Breitz's wall of video monitors (Legend) featuring people from Jamaica singing Bob Marley songs. Fred Tomeselli's paintings and Beatriz Milhazes' untitled installation (both at the Mint), Shawne Major's colorful abstract tapestries and Pedro Reyes' Leverage seesaw (both of these last two in the Contemporary Art Center) were among my favorites. I even got to participate in some playing on Leverage, as a bunch of adults balanced one tiny kid for a few minutes up going up and down.

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