Click below for a video by John Duke, the first installment of BURNAWAY’s coverage of New Orleans’s international biennial, Prospect.2. Our series includes both official exhibitions and outside satellite projects such as The Music Box.
Filmmaker John Duke and I ventured to New Orleans last month to sample the citywide exhibitions of Prospect.2, the much-anticipated sequel to the international biennial that debuted in 2008 (click here for more history). That event, Prospect.1, sent shockwaves of wonder throughout the region as artists from around the world pitched in to support locals working in the city’s hurricane-scarred neighborhoods.
But, although we noticed a few scattered reminders of Katrina’s watery wrath, the artwork we experienced shows a confident, forward-looking attitude. These projects say nothing of the disaster—except, perhaps, that artists have internalized the storm’s ferocity and channeled it into work that’s intimate and earthy, yet epic and all-consuming.
Although The Music Box is a satellite and not an official part of Prospect.2, we decided to include it first in our video series because something about their crew reminded us of home. Their youthful vigor resembles that of Atlanta’s emerging artists who’ve added so much to our scene over the past few years. Why not recognize our sister cities and collaborate towards success?
Presented by New Orleans Airlift, The Music Box looks like a mad playground of reclaimed wood, colored a warm sepia with touches of teal. When children play “fort” in their living rooms, this is the kind of impossible structure they might imagine: strange geometries that crisscross around enclosed hiding spaces, holding up spires that, at night, seem to levitate into the coastal Louisiana sky. Click here for more photos of the site.
The property is a fenced-in lot that formerly was a collapsed eighteenth-century home in the Bywater, a residential neighborhood not far from the Ninth Ward. Design credits go to Swoon, a Brooklyn-based artist who’s made a name for herself in both street art and fine art. After Music Box comes down, she’ll create a more permanent version called Dithyrambalina at the same location.
Each room contains an improvised musical setup, from homemade percussion to an oversized keyboard you have to walk over to operate. The art installation invites visitor participation and doubles as the performance site for a “shantytown orchestra” who will appear for the final time this Saturday, December 10, 2011. BURNAWAY captured the second of three performances alongside the New York Times who wrote this piece on the project.
Please watch BURNAWAY for more video including excerpts from our interviews with Dan Cameron, founder of Prospect New Orleans, as well as Atlanta native John Otte, curator of another satellite show in the Bywater.