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Emily Schmidt, Communication Strategist
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Lauren Noel, Marketing Assistant
The Historic New Orleans Collection
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Prospect.2 installation by Dawn DeDeaux opens Oct. 22 at THNOC
"Confederacy of Dunces"-themed display transforms the Brulatour Courtyard
October 2011 | New Orleans, LA-The Historic New Orleans Collection returns as a participant in the biennial Prospect New Orleans contemporary arts festival, hosting an outdoor installation by new media artist Dawn DeDeaux in its Brulatour Courtyard, 520 Royal St. The exhibition opens Saturday, Oct. 22, with extended viewing hours, 6 p.m.-midnight, and a special performance from the UNO Jazz Orchestra at 6 p.m. Regular viewing hours for the installation are 6-10 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday (excluding holidays), through January 29, 2012.
About Prospect New Orleans
Prospect.2, the third incarnation of Prospect New Orleans, features 27 local, national and international artists at venues across the city and in Lafayette. Tickets for the festival are $10 for a day pass, $20 for a week pass and $30 for a full-season pass.
Founded by curator Dan Cameron, Prospect New Orleans is one of the leading biennials of international contemporary art in the United States. Conceived in the tradition of the great international biennials, such as the Venice Biennale and the Bienal de São Paulo, Prospect New Orleans showcases new artistic practices from around the world in settings that are both historically and culturally exceptional, and contributes to the cultural economy of New Orleans and the Louisiana Gulf coast by spurring cultural tourism and bringing international attention to the area's vibrant visual arts community.
More information about the other venues, installations, artists, ticket sales and times is available at http://www.prospectneworleans.org/.
About the Exhibition
DeDeaux, a New Orleans native and one of America's pioneering new media artists, employs her visionary sense of space, light and media to transform the Brulatour Courtyard into "Goddess Fortuna and Her Dunces In An Effort To Make Sense Of It All." Inspired by John Kenney Toole's classic New Orleans novel, "A Confederacy of Dunces," the exhibition celebrates the 30th anniversary of the novel's Pulitzer Prize, exploring its underlying philosophical themes.
"I had an opportunity to spend time with Thelma Toole, John Kennedy Toole's mother, three decades ago prior to the book's release," said DeDeaux. "After its publication, I asked to design a stage production of ‘Confederacy' and began exploring the novel's deeper meanings. Post-Katrina, I found my surviving costume drawings and decided to readdress the novel and unravel it beyond its original narrative."
"The narrative comedy of ‘Confederacy' is so successful that some readers overlook its medieval origins, overture to literary giants and philosophical and theological arguments," said DeDeaux. "The exhibition is structured to bring these complex considerations into a larger public discourse. I wanted to pay particular tribute to [Ignatius J. Reilly's] guiding light, the Goddess Fortuna, who is frequently summoned throughout the pages of the book as counsel to Reilly."
In DeDeaux's installation, the eccentric and tangential mind of Reilly escapes the pages of the book, usurping the courtyard through a number of sculptures, prints and sound and lighting installations recalling iconography from the novel. Those familiar with the book will recognize the Lucky Dog hotdog cart, the Levy pants revolt and Reilly's filthy rumpled bed.
DeDeaux set the interpretation within the context of contemporary New Orleans pop culture using two icons of modern New Orleans-bounce artists Big Freedia and Katey Red. The rappers alternately play the Goddess Fortuna in a video projected on an exterior wall. A chorus of "Fortunette" dancers accompanies the goddess, foretelling the future in the centuries-old tradition of dancing oracles and priestesses
"I wanted to explore Fortuna's broader relationship with nature, fate and disaster in today's world, racked by hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, oil spills and terrorist attacks," said DeDeaux. "There is something about wanting to know our future that strikes humbly into the heart of ‘humanness.'"
DeDeaux's piece, which is Part One of her exploration of the novel, is not The Collection's first venture with the local biennial, but it is certainly the most ambitious.
"The Collection participated in the inaugural Prospect New Orleans in 2008, but the scale of this installation is spectacular and takes our involvement to the next level," said Priscilla Lawrence, executive director at The Collection. "Dawn [DeDeaux] took over the courtyard-‘Confederacy' is such a great visual representation of New Orleans and this exhibition brings it to life."
About the Artist
Works by Dawn DeDeaux have been widely exhibited throughout the country, including the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the Baltimore Museum of Contemporary Art, the Peace Museum (Chicago), the Blanton Museum of Art (Austin) and the Armand Hammer Museum (Los Angeles). Her ground-breaking work as a new media artist is recognized in college textbooks and has been reviewed in national publications. As one of the eight founders of the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, she served as the Board of Directors Vice President during its formative years.
About the Brulatour Courtyard
The Brulatour House at 520 Royal St. features one of the French Quarter's most recognized courtyards. Built in 1816 by noted merchant furniture maker François Seignouret, the home was purchased in 1870 by Pierre Brulatour, who operated a wine-importing business on site until 1889. In the 20th century, the property served as meeting and exhibition space for the New Orleans Arts and Crafts Club, which went on to establish the New Orleans Art School. The Historic New Orleans Collection acquired the building in 2006.
About The Collection
Founded in 1966, The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum, research center and publisher dedicated to the preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, The Collection offers guided tours, free rotating exhibitions, a research facility and a museum shop. For more information, visit http://www.hnoc.org/ or call (504) 523-4662.
The Historic New Orleans Collection - Preserving our Past for a Brighter Future.