Installed on low pedestals under Gulf Stream–blue light, each housed an armored tank fragment encased in resin and barnacled with species of live coral fighting each other for territory.“They’re organisms reclaiming the instruments of their displacement and creating the borders of their own nations,” he said.“We gotta talk about the new slavery,” Calhoun said.“Our schools are incubators for the prisons.” Louisiana, he said, has more prisons per capita than any other state—five in the town of Monroe alone. If you weren’t on a shuttle, exploring meant calling a taxi, only to be told there were none available.
It is vaguely set up as a broadcasting station, and she is lobbying for the use of old UHF/VHF television channels as free Wi Fi networks for people too poor to pay for online access.But New Orleans is a city that elicits strong emotions. If the Crescent City is now beginning to prosper as a convention and music center—Win Butler and Rgine Chassagne (of Arcade Fire) and Solange Knowles have moved here—it is also stuck in a romantic, nineteenth-century vampire haze that masks (or excuses) racial and economic inequalities as well as violence. “That’s the most important question.”Kerry James Marshall’s response was to fill two of the Ash center’s display windows with gift-wrapped boxes and mirror every surface to reflect the street.None of that is unique to New Orleans, just more visible—and also more deniable—here. Initially, this was baffling, but that was before I knew that the building was in a neighborhood that was once the only one in town where blacks could do their shopping.Next door, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art had a peculiar stand-alone show of Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings—an odd addition to the biennial, though something of a coup for New Orleans.Next to it were painted reliefs by the late outsider artist Herbert Singleton, and next to that a series of photographic portraits of inmates at Angola (the notorious Louisiana prison) by Keith Calhoun and Chandra Mc Cormick, New Orleans natives.