Prospect.3 Trains Its Eye Provocatively on the Art World’s Social Failings

Prospect.3 Trains Its Eye Provocatively on the Art World’s Social Failings

“Somewhere and not Anywhere.” That’s the way Binx Bolling, the protagonist of Walker Percy’s 1961 novel The Moviegoer, describes his ideal digs in New Orleans. Describing a place that is familiar yet in no way humdrum, the phrase feelingly captures this dynamic city nearly a decade after Hurricane Katrina. A location that historically touts its brilliant food, music, literature, dance, and local culture galore, the Crescent City is also currently the epicenter of a sparkling Prospect.3—one of the best international art biennials, anywhere, in recent memo

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Two works that are slightly off-the beaten path provide their own answers. On view at historically black Dillard University is William Cordova’s excellent but historically skeptical Component One: untitled (Soul Rebels Band vs. Robert E. Lee: or silent parade), a literal face off between a statue of the Confederate general and a local eight-piece brass band. On the other, is Tavares Strachan’s You Belong Here: a football-field sized pink neon sign on a barge that floats up and down the Mississippi River, starting at sundown. The biennial work that deserves the most Mardi Gras beads, Strachan’s corporate-sized signage both embraces the idea that shows like this can successfully take on urgent questions, and sets it adrift: Who belongs? Where is here? What is belonging?

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