Ballroom Marfa Art Fund
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Visual Art

The World According to New Orleans

18 Mar 201114 Aug 2011


Marfa, Texas


Dan Cameron, Dan Tague | Little Freddie King | Sister Gertrude Morgan | Jules Cahn |  Michael P. Smith | Bruce Davenport Jr. | Courtney Egan | Deborah Luster

Ballroom Marfa collaborated with curator Dan Cameron on The World According to New Orleans, a curatorial examination of the art and visual culture of New Orleans, with a focus on areas of overlap between self-taught and avant-garde tendencies. New Orleans’ location at the geographic fringe of the continental United States, in close proximity to Cuba, Haiti, and Mexico, has generated a unique blend of artistic genres and vernacular traditions, and each of the artists in the exhibition has produced work that ichallenges = these distinctions. The exhibition includes work by several artists who were self-taught, as well as documentary photographs and films that examine neighborhood and community expressions.

New Orleans has not typically been located at the forefront of any major postwar American art movements, so the analysis of its characteristic visual art forms is missing from most accounts of national art of the past half century. Paradoxically, this cultural distance between center and periphery in American art seems to underscore much of the art to come out of New Orleans, while ensuring that many valuable developments go unnoticed by the national mainstream. 

Renewed interest in the artistic and cultural significance of New Orleans since the post-Katrina floods of 2005 suggests a prior neglect that the international art community seems prepared to address. For this reason, The World According to New Orleans proposes that a historical backdrop to New Orleans art — particularly one that suggests an alternative artistic canon –- is appropriate for an exhibition that attempts to explore the essence of the city’s current art scene. The historic past proposed in this exhibition is one that is just as idiosyncratic as the present it influences. For this reason, rather than span a sequence of historical chapters, it is simply designated as The Past.