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Meet Dan Cameron

Art. Culture. Community. This is the image Dan Cameron, founder of Prospect New Orleans, aspires to recreate for Prospect.2 this fall. In his lecture at Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Gallery, Cameron emphasized the importance of the keeping the biennial tradition alive for the city. Cameron first experienced Jazz Fest as a tourist in 1987, and this led to the beginning of his relationship with New Orleans. His idea to pursue Prospect New Orleans was not actually executed until after Hurricane Katrina struck. There appeared to be a trend among successful biennials: they all began as a result of disaster in hopes to reunite the communities. Cameron said, “What is often overlooked in this history…. (is that most biennials)


grew out of national trauma. Incidents in which the nation itself, the social fabric, was rendered, was deeply wounded by certain events.” Prospect.1, scheduled to open November 1, 2008, would remain true to the goal of community. With 80 artists from all around the world, Prospect.1 had a mission to capture the personality of the city from the eyes of foreign artists. With 24 venues all around the city, Prospect.1 had a huge economic impact. Hard economic times throughout the country forced Prospect.2 to be postponed. Prospect.1.5 opened on November 6, 2010 as a placeholder to keep the biennial alive. It was downsized significantly from Prospect.1 but still showcased the work of 47 artists at 12 venues. Finally on October 22, 2011, Prospect.2 opened with 27 artists and 16 venues. Although the works are no longer focused on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, New Orleans culture is still present in the art. His vision of the kick off event for Prospect.2 was inspired by his first Jazz Fest experience in 1987 as a tourist. Cameron said, “The intoxication with all things related to New Orleans began with food and culminated as they do for so many with music.” On opening day five marching bands walking from different directions played in sync until they all joined together to create a harmonious song emphasizing the meaning of the word community to art and the work of Prospect.2.


Behind the Scenes: Q&A with Ylva Rouse 4

Q: How does Prospect New Orleans choose artists to participate? A: Prospect New Orleans is a curated exhibition. This means that you have a curator and curatorial team that propose an initial list of artists, that is then pared down to the final selection where the contribution to the community, the balance of international, national and local artists and of media and the proposed projects themselves, among other factors, are taken into consideration. Q. How long do the artists have to prepare their exhibits? A. Usually two years. Q. I know there isn’t a definite theme to the works of Prospect.2, but does each artist have the liberty to create whatever he or she wants? Does Propect.2 encourage works about New Orleans? A. What makes Prospect New Orleans unique is that we invite the artists to come for a site visit. This has the purpose to familiarize the artist with the city, and make sure that the proposal is embedded in the New Orleans community, history and social realities, --whether the final proposal is a pre-existing work, or a new project. New Orleans has an incredibly rich history and culture, sitting in the middle of the crossroads of many cultures, and at the same time, protagonist of many of the important social issues that our society faces today. Most artists fall in love with the city when they come for their site visit, and find it relatively easy to make a proposal in that vein. The proposal is then worked out and grows to its final form in a synergetic manner between the curatorial team and the artist. Q. How are the locations for the exhibits decided? Do the museums and other locations volunteer, or are they selected? A. Some venues, such as our city’s art institutions —CAC, NOMA, Ogden, etc.-- are natural partners, given that they are dedicated to contemporary art. Other sites and/or venues are sought out by us, whether to help give exposure and support to a certain community or institution of New Orleans —such as 9th Ward for Prospect.1, or the St. Claude area for Prospect.2, or the universities— and yet again, sometimes it is the artist that during his or hers site visit, propose a site that resonates with them. In the case of Francesco Vezzoli, we proposed the Italian Piazza to him, as it seemed to be a natural fit for him considering the nature of the Piazza —a postmodern landmark close to the spirit of his work--, and dedicated to his country. He immediately jumped on the idea and proposed his homage to on one hand Giorgio de Chirico, and on the other hand Sophie Loren.




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