Prospect New Orleans 2020 announced Title, Curatorial Framework, and Programming Partners
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Prospect New Orleans 2020 announced Title, Curatorial Framework, and Programming Partners
Marigny Opera House. Photo by Pompo Bresciani / Courtesy of Prospect New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- Prospect New Orleans iannounces its fifth edition, Yesterday we said tomorrow, curated by Artistic Directors Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi. Opening on October 24, 2020 and remaining on view through January 24, 2021, Prospect.5 will take place in museums, cultural spaces, and public sites throughout New Orleans. The exhibition will feature artists based in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe, many of whom will produce newly commissioned projects. Yesterday we said tomorrow also introduces Programming Partners, a new collaborative element unique to Prospect.5. The list of participating artists will be announced in the spring of 2020.

“Prospect originated in 2008 as an experiment to welcome the contemporary art world to New Orleans and to spotlight a city with unmistakably singular culture and community,” said Executive Director Nick Stillman. “During this Prospect.5 cycle we are celebrating our tenth anniversary as an organization. We’re also recognizing the fifteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is irrevocably altered since that moment, and yet remains beautifully singular. History––its weight and complexity–– is very much on our minds as we think about Prospect.5.”

The exhibition title Yesterday we said tomorrow is drawn from New Orleans–born jazz musician Christian Scott’s socially conscious 2010 album Yesterday You Said Tomorrow. The unspoken present is centermost in this frame, the site where past and future converge, which has always contained the possibility of other courses. “Yesterday we said tomorrow” addresses the social body and the individual, suggesting the deferral of structural and political change. The exhibition takes its cues from the specificity of our moment and of New Orleans itself, a city where inextricable layers of history and culture are always present and where performance and resistance define daily life in ways both literal and metaphoric.

Artists will employ diverse readings, interpretative models, and various forms to create a polyvocal retelling of history that is attuned to our complex era. Resistance, liberation, and an insistence on existence have taken many forms; this exhibition is interested in these strategies that rely on the embodied, the imagined, the scholarly, the irrational, the felt, the connective, and the firsthand.

For Prospect.5, Keith and Nawi have convened a coalition of emerging cultural producers to create public programming in New Orleans throughout 2020 leading up to the triennial and during the exhibition: Grace Deveney, Kimberly Drew, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Kristina Kay Robinson, and Maricelle Robles. These program partners will realize a diverse range of events in collaboration with venues across the city, from museums and cultural centers to theaters and bars, bringing unique perspectives to the exhibition’s themes through their own work. They will create programs in partnership with local organizations that illuminate, expand, complicate, and challenge the ideas of the triennial. The programming partner concept a new model for Prospect and reflects from the artistic directors’ dialogic approach to this exhibition.

The last edition of Prospect New Orleans’s triennial, Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp (P.4), took place from November 16, 2017 to February 25th, 2018. This critically acclaimed exhibition featured more than seventy artists selected by Artistic Director Trevor Schoonmaker. During its run, Prospect.4 engaged over 100,000 visitors through the exhibition as well as educational and public programs.

Artistic Director
Naima J. Keith is the newly appointed Vice President of Education and Public Programs at LACMA. Prior to holding this position, Keith was the Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the California African American Museum where she guided the curatorial and education departments as well as marketing and communications. During her tenure at CAAM, Keith has also curated several exhibitions including Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses (2016), Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle: The Evanesced (2017), and Gary Simmons: Fade to Black (2017–9). She was the 2017 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize in recognition of her contributions to the field of African American art history. Previously an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2011–16), Keith’s notable exhibitions there include: Rodney McMillian: Views of Main Street (2016), Artists in Residence 2014–2015 (2015), Titus Kaphar (2014), Glenn Kaino (2014), and Robert Pruitt (2013), The Shadows Took Shape (co-curated with Zoe Whitley, 2013), Fore (co-curated with Lauren Haynes and Thomas J. Lax, 2012). Her historical survey, Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974–1989 (2014), traveled to the Hammer Museum in spring 2015 and was nominated in 2014 for a "Best Monographic Museum Show in New York" award by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA). Keith has also held a curatorial position at the Hammer Museum, serving as the primary contact for the groundbreaking exhibition Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980, organized by guest curator Kellie Jones. She has lectured extensively and her essays have appeared in numerous publications. Keith holds degrees from Spelman College and University of California, Los Angeles, and is a proud native of Los Angeles.

Diana Nawi is an independent curator based in Los Angeles. In 2019 she organized Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum, Shanghai, Terence Price II: Dancing in the Absence of Pain at ArtCenter/South Florida, Miami (now Oolite Arts), and Michael Rakowitz: Dispute between the Tamarisk and the Date Palm at REDCAT, Los Angeles. Nawi previously served as Associate Curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) for five years, where she curated exhibitions and published major catalogues including John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night (2017), Nari Ward: Sun Splashed (2015), Iman Issa: Heritage Studies (2015), and Adler Guerrier: Formulating a Plot (2014). She also organized newly commissioned projects including Haroon Mirza: A C I D G E S T (2017), Matthew Ronay: When Two Are in One (2016), Shana Lutker: Again Against, A Foot, A Back, A Wall (2015), Nicole Cherubini: 500 (2014), Yael Bartana: Inferno (2013), Bouchra Khalili: Speeches - Chapter 3: Living Labour (2013), and LOS JAICHACKERS: Night Shade/Solanaceae (Julio César Morales and Eamon Ore-Giron; 2013). Prior to joining PAMM, Nawi worked as an assistant curator on the Abu Dhabi Project of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and served as a fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her masters from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

Programming partners
Grace Deveney is the associate curator of Prospect.5. Deveney will organize a series of film screenings and conversations between Prospect.5 artists in various locations throughout New Orleans. The programs will expand on the themes of the triennial by considering the ways the past remains palpable in liminal spaces such as airports, lighthouses, and churches, and the ways our actions in the present create new histories for these spaces.

Kimberly Drew is a writer, curator, and activist. Drew’s book Black Futures, coauthored with Jenna Wortham, will be published in 2020. Drew will produce a salon-style meal with New Orleans cultural producers and activists that provides an intimate platform for discussions around accessibility and our shared responsibility to one another. This event will be the genesis for accompanying public programs around these issues.

Jason Fitzroy Jeffers is a Miami-based Barbadian filmmaker and co-executive director of Third Horizon, a Caribbean filmmaking collective. Jeffers will bring elements of Third Horizon alongside his ongoing project Foggy Windows to Prospect.5, convening a series of conversations, parties, and dances centered around the elusive question, “Why doesn’t anybody slow dance anymore?”

Kristina Kay Robinson is a New Orleans–based writer and curator. Robinson coedits Mixed Company, a forum for fiction by women of color. Robinson also leads Room 220, a division of Antenna Gallery that advocates for New Orleans’s literary culture. She will produce a series of free literary events relating to history and voices of color throughout 2020.

Maricelle Robles is an art educator based in New York. Her work investigates cultural histories through experiences that connect people and transform scholarship. For Prospect.5 Robles will produce a series of convenings with curators, artists, and emerging scholars that will engage distinct regional and local histories.

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