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Rachel Churner on “Prospect.1 New Orleans”

AMONG THE MANY SPRAY-PAINTED slogans scrawled on abandoned buildings, washed-out pickup trucks, and makeshift plywood signs that appear in Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006) is a singularly apt comment written on the side of a car: HOPE IS NOT A PLAN. Even now, after years of telethons, tax breaks, and official visits, the statement continues to express the frustration of a city in disrepair, caught in the unending fiasco that is the FEMA relief effort.

Only hope, or a plan? It is this difficult question that is posed by the first New Orleans biennial of contemporary art, a mega-exhibition advertised as a cross between the city’s JazzFest and the Venice Biennale. The new biennial’s curator, Dan Cameron, intends for it to help “reinvigorate” and “redevelop” the city. Opening on November 1, and on view until January 18, 2009, “Prospect.1 New Orleans”

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