On Thursday, June 25, MOCAD hosted a guest lecture by Franklin Sirmans, the Terri and Michael Smooke department head and curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In 2014, Sirmans served as artistic director for Prospect.3—the third installation of a recently established biennial (which is adapting to a triennial interval) that emerged as a mechanism for examining and reconciling the post-Katrina landscape of New Orleans. The first Prospect took place in 2000.
Sirmans’ talk focused intensively on the details of P.3, explicating the many and layered exchanges that were taking place amidst the 18 spaces that hosted elements of the exhibition. The works displayed were as varied as the participating artists, which in turn reflected the extensive array of source material that Sirmans used to form the conceptual foundation of P.3. These jumping off points included specific works of literature, such as Things Fall Apart, White Teeth, Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Invisible Cities and, most importantly, The Moviegoers, by Walter Percy. There were also more general art world considerations, such as the conversation between abstraction and figurative painting, and the specific considerations of the cultural and locational identity of New Orleans.