The title of Prospect.5 New Orleans, this year’s long-awaited return of the city-spanning triennial art event, is “Yesterday We Said Tomorrow.” That’s a riff on a song title from local jazz star Christian Scott—but the suggestion of both promise and delay has proven prophetic, unfortunately so.
Curated by Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi, Prospect.5 has been pushed back multiple times, first by the global pandemic (it was originally set for 2020) and then by the catastrophe of Hurricane Ida earlier this year. Nevertheless, the curators and the team behind the triennial have pressed on, settling on a phased opening that has now delivered most of the show to the city.
Some of “Yesterday We Said Tomorrow” still remains in the realm of promises, including, according to the program, planned projects by E.J. Hill and Tiona Nekkia McClodden, both set to open in coming days, and a sculpture by art star Simone Leigh, which won’t go up until early January.
But the show’s key hubs, which include the Contemporary Art Center and the Newcomb Art Museum, are fully alive with artworks. Prospect has always made an effort to implant art in venues throughout New Orleans, and this edition is no exception. Even in its incomplete state, there are enough one-off artist projects and smaller shows to make it difficult to take everything in all in one go.
Even if it I can’t provide the full picture just yet, here’s a sampling of images to give a sense of some of what Keith and Nawi’s vision looks like.