NEW ORLEANS WILL Become an International Arts Hub with Prospect.3 Biennial

New Orleans has such a sense of local community that we sometimes forget its artistic reputation extends beyond the South. Fortunately, Prospect.3 begins Oct. 25, reminding us all that this city is just as relevant on the national and international arts stages.

What began as an effort to nurture our culture during the Katrina recovery now stands as an international mega-exhibit within the Crescent City that aims to contend with Venice, home to another famous, waterfront biennial.

Ark Prospect New Orleans

Photo courtesy of Green Kozi on Flickr.

 With the theme “Notes for Now,” Prospect.3 draws inspiration from Walker Percy’s 1961 novel “The Moviegoer,” which was set in New Orleans. Though the novel touches on existentialism, don’t worry: this isn’t the heavy stuff of Kierkegaard or Nietzsche. In typically New Orleans fashion, the novel has a light tone that infuses the biennial.

The book established Percy as a prominent voice in Southern Literature; similarly, Prospect’s vision and scope have transformed it into a major contemporary arts biennial after just three showings.

Featuring artists from the US (including New Orleans, of course), the biennial also includes artists from Turkey, Japan, France, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Italy, to name a few. Expect famous pieces, including works from Jean-Michel Basquiat, alongside avant-garde offerings from emerging artists.

All the pieces touch on the search for personal identity while also incorporating topics like the South, crime and punishment, and the New Orleans experience.

While the free, three-month event features exhibitions at some of the city’s larger institutions – the Ogden and NOMA, for example – we like to think of Prospect as an artistic treasure hunt. Take your time exploring the 18 different venues featuring work from 58 international artists, and who knows what you’ll find!

In contrast to previous showings, Prospect.3 brings with it three new and notable changes. First, Prospect will partner with The New Orleans Advocate to create an official map and guide available for free. Additionally, the beautiful, four-diamond Hyatt Regency New Orleans will serve as the official hotel for Prospect artists.

Perhaps most important to local arts and culture is P.3+, a new initiative that promotes the concurrent exhibitions hosted by the local arts community and features nearly 300 local and regional artists.

In 2008, Prospect.1 brought in about 50,000 visitors and a total of $24 million to the city. In its continued efforts to showcase international artists alongside New Orleans-specific themes and artwork, Prospect.3 is poised to be just as – if not more – important to our tourism economy.