About Prospect New Orleans
Prospect New Orleans was conceived in the tradition of the great international exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale and the Bienal de São Paulo, to showcase new artistic practices from around the world in settings that are both historic and culturally exceptional, and contribute to the cultural economy of New Orleans and the Louisiana Gulf region.
The idea to mount a large-scale international art biennial in New Orleans came to Dan Cameron, an internationally-recognized contemporary art curator, during his first post-Katrina visit to New Orleans. An annual visitor to Jazz Fest and acknowledged “Nolaphile”, in early-2006 Cameron was invited to New Orleans by friends in the art community to attend a public meeting about the role of art and artists in the rebuilding of the city. As a veteran curator of international biennials in Taipei and Istanbul, Cameron had witnessed first-hand the social and financial benefits that biennial exhibitions yield for their host cities, and was keenly aware of the fact that the U.S. does not have an international contemporary art biennial on the scale of major cities in Europe, Asia, and South America. Given the potential benefits and opportunities, Cameron decided that post-Katrina New Orleans was an ideal time and place to launch such a venture and in 2007, with seed money from the philanthropist Toby Devan Lewis, Prospect New Orleans was born.
In the tradition of the great international exhibitions, Prospect New Orleans invites leading contemporary artists from around the globe to exhibit at venues that include major cultural institutions, as well as non-arts venues, and public spaces. In addition to its impact on cultural tourism and the fact that people travel to and spend money in New Orleans to see Prospect, its larger impact has been the way that artists have embraced the social mission of the biennial, and created projects that resonate deeply with the City’s unique history, culture, people, and institutions, making a lasting impression on audiences both local and throughout the world. At the heart of Prospect is the connection that it enables between “high art” and the larger cultural landscape of the city, with its rich and diverse vernacular traditions of music, Mardi Gras Indians, second line parades, and other popular cultural forms. Prospect introduces audiences to the richness of New Orleans culture as seen through the eyes of artists.
Most recently, Prospect.2 ran from October 22, 2011 through January 29, 2012 at 16 venues throughout New Orleans and Lafayette, LA and featured 27 local, national, and international artists. Prospect.2 was the third exhibition produced by U.S. Biennial. In its inaugural outing in 2008-09, Prospect.1 New Orleans featured 81 artists who exhibited at 24 venues throughout the city. From November 2008 through January 2009, Prospect.1 attracted 42,000 individual visitors (88,000 admissions; approximately 50% from out of town), generating over $23 million in economic activity. After Prospect.2 was postponed by one year, Prospect.1.5 New Orleans was developed as a lower-cost alternative, focusing on artists from or working in New Orleans and the Southeast region. Organized in collaboration with public art centers and museums, schools, alternative spaces and commercial galleries in New Orleans, this program of group exhibitions and solo projects involved more than 50 artists. Prospect.1.5 ran from November 6, 2010 to February 19, 2011, attracting approximately 29,000 visitors.
Prospect.3 New Orleans
The Board of Directors of U.S. Biennial has recently announced that Prospect.3 New Orleans, the third edition of New Orleans International Contemporary Art Biennial will open in Fall 2014. Franklin Sirmans has been selected to curate Prospect.3.
About Franklin Sirmans, Prospect.3 Artistic Director
Franklin Sirmans is the Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), a post he has held since January 2010. Sirmans previously served as the head of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston, TX, for several years, where in 2008 he organized NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, an exhibition that later traveled to P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York and the Miami Art Museum. He was also the curator of Maurizio Cattelan: Is There Life After Death?, Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster: 1964-1966, and Steve Wolfe: On Paper, of which the latter two traveled to LACMA. A former U.S. Editor of Flash Art and Editor-in-Chief of ArtAsiaPacific magazines, Sirmans has written for several journals and newspapers on art and culture, including The New York Times, Newsweek International, Art in America, ARTnews, Grand Street, and Essence Magazine.
Sirmans was co-curator of Basquiat (2005-2006: Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), as well as, Make It Now: New Sculpture in New York at Sculpture Center; One Planet Under A Groove: Contemporary Art and Hip Hop (2001-2003: Bronx Museum of Art, Spelman College Art Gallery, Atlanta, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany); and Ralph Bunche: Diplomat for Peace and Justice at the Queens Museum of Art (2004).
Sirmans has edited numerous catalogues on contemporary art including Transforming the Crown: African, Asian, and Caribbean Artists in Britain (University of Chicago Press), Jean-Michel Basquiat (Tony Shafrazi Gallery), Freestyle: The Studio Museum in Harlem and Black Belt (The Studio Museum in Harlem), and has contributed to Gary Simmons (The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and The Studio Museum in Harlem), and Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970 (Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston), in addition to several monographs. He was the 2005 Maryland Art Place Critic-in-Residence and an instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Princeton University.
Born in New York City, Sirmans was raised in Harlem, Albany, and New Rochelle, New York. He received a B.A. in Art History and English from Wesleyan University.
Sirmans will be working with Rita Gonzalez and Christine Y. Kim, Associate Curators of Contemporary Art at LACMA, who will serve as curatorial advisors on Prospect.3.