This October, two weeks before the presidential election, Prospect New Orleans will open its fifth edition in the Big Easy.

And like past iterations of the triennial, it will be ambitious, taking on topics that meet at the junction of past and present, local and national, private and public.

Organized by curators Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi, the show will present the work of 49 artists, four-fifths of whom are African American, throughout various venues in the city. As a whole, the show will tackle the inherent contradictions of the present period—and the persistent feeling that we’ve been at this unprecedented moment before.

Wangechi Mutu, <i>Water Woman</i> (2017). © Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Image courtesy of the Contemporary Austin. Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons.

Wangechi Mutu, Water Woman (2017). © Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Image courtesy of the Contemporary Austin. Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons.

Demonstrating this point, the curators point to Trump tossing paper towels to Hurricane Maria survivors in Puerto Rico in 2018, and how it echoed President Bush’s gesture of flying over New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“It’s about trying to hold those two ideas in our hands at once, knowing that they’re both true,” Nawi tells Artnet News. “This moment is totally unique, and yet we got here in a straight line. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

In the purest example of this curatorial conceit, five artists included in the first edition of Prospect New Orleans in 2008—Willie Birch, Mark Bradford, Dave McKenzie, Wangechi Mutu, and Nari Ward—have been invited to participate again, this time reflecting on how the city and the show have changed in twelves years’ time.

Dineo Seshee Bopape, <i>Untitled (Of Occult Instability) [Feelings]</i> (2016–18). Installation view: 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Courtesy of the artist, Jabu Arnell, Lachell Workman, Mo Laudi, Robert Rhee, and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg/Beirut. Photo: Timo Ohler.

Dineo Seshee Bopape, Untitled (Of Occult Instability) [Feelings] (2016–18). Installation view: 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Courtesy of the artist, Jabu Arnell, Lachell Workman, Mo Laudi, Robert Rhee, and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg/Beirut. Photo: Timo Ohler.

“[The first edition of] Prospect had a huge impact on the conversation around what a regional art event could be,” Keith says. “We went back to a number of artists that were in the original version and talked to them about the impact of their participation in the show and the impact of being in New Orleans during that time period. We asked them to consider how the conversation has shifted for both them and the culture at large since then.”

The project hearkens back to the goal of that original show, which was held just three years after Katrina, Nawi says: “to make a promise to the city, to make a commitment to a place that had been devastated, and to think about what the art economy has to offer to a place like that.” 

CelesteDupuy-Spencer, <i>Lake PontchartrainCauseway</i> (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Nino Mier Gallery.

CelesteDupuy-Spencer, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Nino Mier Gallery.

With eight months left before the triennial’s opening, the projects are largely still being formulated. Nearly all of the artists will be debuting new work, while an estimated 50 percent of them will be making sight-specific pieces commissioned for the show. (All artists will be given a participation fee.)

“This is not the Whitney Biennial, which takes place inside the walls of a museum,” Nawi says. “It’s a different model, one that takes you across the city. There’s a necessary engagement for you, the visitor—you’ll be traversing the city and entering many doorways in many different kinds of spaces.”

“New Orleans is the backdrop, but it’s also the main character of the show,” she adds. “Our job as curators is to situate art amongst this vibrant cultural context instead of vanquishing it with white walls.”

See the full list of artists participating in the fifth edition of Prospect New Orleans below.

Katrina Andry (b. 1981, New Orleans; lives New Orleans)

Keni Anwar (b. 1993, New Orleans; lives New Orleans)

Felipe Baeza (b. 1987, Guanajuato, Mexico; lives in New Haven, Connecticut, and New York)

Kevin Beasley (b. 1985, Lynchburg, Virginia; lives in New York)

Ron Bechet (b. 1956, New Orleans; lives in New Orleans)

Paul Stephen Benjamin (b. 1966, Chicago; lives in Atlanta)

Dawoud Bey (b. 1953, New York; lives in Chicago)

Willie Birch (b. 1942, New Orleans; lives in New Orleans)

Dineo Seshee Bopape (b. 1981, Polokwane, South Africa; lives in Johannesburg)

Phoebe Boswell (b. 1982, Nairobi; lives in London)

Mark Bradford (b. 1961, Los Angeles; lives in Los Angeles)

Beverly Buchanan (b. 1940, Fuquay, North Carolina; d. 2015, Anne Arbor)

Barbara Chase-Riboud (b. 1939, Philadelphia; lives Paris and Rome)

Cooking Sections: Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe (Daniel Fernández Pascual, b. 1984, and Alon Schwabe, b. 1984; live in London)

Adriana Corral (b. 1983, El Paso, Texas; lives in Houston)

Jamal Cyrus (b. 1973, Houston; lives in Houston)

Karon Davis (b. 1977, Reno, Nevada; lives in Los Angeles)

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer (b. 1979, New York; lives in Los Angeles)

George Dureau* (b. 1930, New Orleans; d. 2014, New Orleans)

ektor garcia (b. 1985, Red Bluff, California; lives in Mexico City and New York)

Sharon Hayes (b. 1970, Baltimore; lives in Philadelphia)

EJ Hill (b. 1985, Los Angeles; lives in Los Angeles)

Sky Hopinka (b. 1984, Ferndale, Washington; lives in Vancouver, British Columbia and Milwaukee)

Elliott Hundley (b. 1975, Greensboro, North Carolina; lives in Los Angeles)

Jennie C. Jones (b. 1968, Cincinnati; lives in Hudson, New York)

Josh Kun (b. 1971, Los Angeles; lives in Los Angeles)

Mimi Lauter (b. 1982, San Francisco; lives in Los Angeles)

Simone Leigh (b. 1967, Chicago; lives in New York)

Tau Lewis (b. 1993, Toronto; lives in Toronto)

Glenn Ligon (b. 1960, New York; lives in New York)

Candice Lin (b. 1979, Concord, Massachusetts; lives in Los Angeles)

Tiona McClodden (b. 1981, Blytheville, Arkansas; lives in Philadelphia)

Dave McKenzie (b. 1977, Kingston, Jamaica; lives in New York)

Rodney McMillian (b. 1969, Columbia, South Carolina; lives in Los Angeles)

Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972, Nairobi; lives in Nairobi and New York)

Neighborhood Story Project: Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes and Rachel Breunlin

Huong Ngo (b. 1979, Hong Kong; lives in Chicago)

Jennifer Packer (b. 1984, Philadelphia; lives in New York)

Malcolm Peacock (b. 1994, Raleigh, North Carolina, lives in New Orleans)

Anastasia Pelias (b.1959, New Orleans; lives in New Orleans)

Naudline Cluvie Pierre (b. 1989, Leomister, Massachusetts; lives in New York)

Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b. 1985, East Palo Alto, California; lives in New York)

Eric-Paul Riege (b. 1994, Gallup, New Mexico; lives in Gallup, New Mexico)

Jamilah Sabur (b. 1987, St. Andrew Parish, Jamaica; lives in Miami)

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (b. 1972, San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Welmon Sharlhorne (b. 1952, New Orleans; lives in New Orleans)

Kiki Smith (b. 1954, Nuremberg, Germany; lives in New York)

Nari Ward (b. 1963, Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica; lives in New York)

Cosmo Whyte (b. 1982, St. Andrew Parish, Jamaica; lives in Atlanta)

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