Starting Oct. 25, contemporary art invades every corner of New Orleans with Prospect.3, an international art biennial featuring work by 58 artists in 18 venues. Venues include New Orleans art galleries and museums, but you’ll also find art in outdoor spaces and even on a barge on the Mississippi River. There are also community events and parties held in conjunction with the biennial. The massive, citywide exhibition runs until Jan. 25, giving you some time to explore this contemporary art scavenger hunt.
Curated by Franklin Sirmans, the Curator of Contemporary Art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the theme of the biennial is “Notes for Now,” and it pulled inspiration from the novel The Moviegoer by Louisiana-born author Walker Percy. In 2007 New Orleans hosted Prospect.1, a massive, unprecedented art extravaganza. The city’s post-Katrina recovery figured largely into the exhibition’s narrative. Prospect.2, a smaller scale production, opened in 2011.
An event of this scale, one of the most important art events to hit our region, may seem overwhelming. So here are a few can’t-miss highlights to begin your Prospect.3 exploration.
The exhibition officially opens to the public on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. with a ribbon cutting followed by a second line at Washington Square Park (700 Elysian Fields Avenue). Leah Chase, owner of seminal Creole restaurant Dooky Chase, hosts a luncheon in the park after the second line.
Opening events continue with “Notes for Now: a Panel Discussion” on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 1p.m. at Dillard University. The panel features P.3 contributors and is moderated by Sirmans and Prospect New Orleans Development Manager Elizabeth Baribeau. The event is free.
P.3 does not include any artists from previous iterations, so this biennial is an all-new slate of contemporary artists from Louisiana and all over the world. Highlights include “Basquiat and the Bayou,” which explores the presence of the Mississippi Delta region in the work of contemporary art legend Jean-Michel Basquiat, at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Another highlight that locals have already spotted is conceptual artist Tavares Strachan’s “You Belong Here.” The phrase is rendered in a 120-by-27-foot purple neon sign and mounted on a barge floating the Mississippi River. There are many other artists to explore, including ones officially chosen by Sirmans and also “P.3+” satellite exhibitions happening concurrently to the official exhibition.
There are plenty of events — artist talks, art tours, parties and more — happening during the biennial, which you can find more information on here. One of the most star-studded events happening is recent New Orleanian Solange Knowles’ “Amen Amen! 17 Wards of Wonder” event featuring a “bounce music bus” installation by Louisiana-born artist Rashaad Newsome and featuring a concert by local bounce artist Katey Red. There’s also a dinner by Dinner Lab and a concert by “Milkshake” singer Kelis. Find more info here.
The lobby of the Contemporary Arts Center will serve as the information hub for P.3 during opening week. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to provide maps and advice on getting to venues. P.3 bus tours will also leave from the CAC.
P.3 is offering some cool ways to experience the exhibition. It’s partnering with car service Uber to offer free rides up to $20 for attendees. There are also Amtrak discounts available for people coming to the exhibition via train. P.3Rides offers bicycle tours of P.3 venues on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the exhibition that leave from Confederacy of Cruisers.