Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Site #25: Sean Derry "An Interlude To Stillness" Broad @ Bienville, Mid-City Nov 13 - 17

Images from Sean Derry's performative/temporary Mid-City installation, "Interlude To Stillness":

(Please visit New Orleans' WWOZ website to listen to Eve Abrams' "Street Talk" profile of this installation/ArtInAction!(click on blue text).)

YouTube video of "An Interlude to Stillness", shot by Courtney Egan.

Please click on photos to enlarge. All photos ©Elizabeth Underwood unless otherwise noted.

Above photo ©Jonathan Traviesa

Above photo ©Jonathan Traviesa

ArtInAction would like to thank John Baus of New Orleans Leasing and Properties, Santos Automotive Center, Fairgrinds Coffee, Whole Foods Market, the New Orleans Arts Council, and the Mid-City neighborhood of this site whose generous support made this project possible.

Site #24: Maxime Demetrio/Naftali Beane Rutter "Brooklyn Portal" 543 Union Street, Brooklyn New York

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Please click on photos to enlarge.

"As our work came clearer on this wall throughout the day, we were visited by a boy on his way home from school. Alex looked at the wheat-paste photo-mural of the Lower 9th Ward post-Katrina stoop - I asked him if he might know where the photo had been taken. His first guess, “New Orleans.”

Alex got silent for a little while. He asked Max a few questions about his skateboard and then out of the blue, “On September 11th, we could feel the shaking at my school.” Then he told us his story of that day.

More boys from the neighborhood joined us and Max took them under his willing wing for a bit of legal spray-paintery. I took a moment to think about Alex and his thinking.

This young boy had "stepped into" the New Orleans/Brooklyn Portal and shared his story in the safety of strangers on a late November afternoon. For a moment the Portal had worked and the larger purpose of activating the art-making process as a way to deal with pain and connect people had been achieved. For a moment, Alex had sat down on his neighbor’s steps." Naftali Beane Rutter

Please look for the documentary “Your Neighbor’s Steps” chronicling ArtInAction’s sponsorship of “The New Oreans/Brooklyn Portal Project” coming soon to Current TV.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Site #23: [ ] Projects "The Home Repo Project" 1432 Aviators Street, Lakeview

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[ ] Projects is a collaborative group consisting of four artists: Rachel Jones, JeffRinehart, Natalie Sciortino and Fernando Braxton. "The Home Repo Project" is the groups' first effort as a collective. [ ] Projects joins with ArtInAction in their efforts to cultivate relationships between the creative class of New Orleans, traumatized landscapes, and our community as a whole. [ ] Projects aim to address issues of safety and domesticity with their work at this site.

"The Home Repo Project" occupies an overgrown lot in the blighted Lake Vista community. Working on site for several weeks we began to feel intimately connected to the neighborhood. We grew accustomed to its rhythms and began to feel as if we were contributing to the surrounding reconstruction efforts. Parallel to this experience of being part of a community we very often found ourselves alone in the landscape. This acted as a sobering reminder of how far this specific neighborhood has to go in its efforts of recovery and how isolated one can feel living in a post-K environment.

In response to this experience of connectivity we set out to build something that would act as a symbol of life and, in our own way, ‘rebuilding’. The simple gestures of our work became an important ritual given the context of this particular space.

"The Home Repo Project" is an interactive installation. The work cannot be fully experienced without the viewer navigating throughout the piece, stepping over yarn, considering where and how to move next. In doing so the participant is judging space, making active decisions, and internalizing the amount of time and effort these actions will take. What seems like a simple act of walking across the polished slab becomes complex and delicate. Many participants of "The Home Repo Project" speak of parallels in their own everyday post-K lives: moments of frustration or confusion mixed with small flashes of relief followed by a sense of accomplishment.”

Many thanks to David Sullivan and his family for allowing the use of their property and for their wholehearted support of our efforts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Site #22: Jessica Bizer "Multi-Function Device" Jean Lafitte Pky @ Jean Lafitte Court, St. Bernard Parish

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"I was interested in using a dramatic, but possibly overlooked, element of the storm-damaged landscape as a jumping-off point for this installation. During my search for a site, this massive broken sign post caught my looked so absurd and out-of-place. It seemed to capture the upended, broken feeling of the surrounding landscape.

This piece is intended to continue the feeling of surprise that I felt when I first encountered the overturned sign. My idea was to create a small, positive, diversion in an otherwise bleak landscape. It is made mainly of pipes, plastic (which I have warped and melted), ducts and streamers. I connected, painted and decorated these disparate objects to suggest that they were related, or part of a system. However, I want the work's functional traits to be balanced a sense by ambiguity and mystery while the disparate elements of the piece appear organized, their overall purpose is not clear. Also, it was important that I use decorative, appealing colors and materials. These characteristics of the piece add a fanciful element to the work and contribute to its purpose as an appealing, mysterious diversion." Jessica Bizer (Please visit

We would like to thank Guy Trentecosta, the property owner, for his generous support and enthusiasm for this project.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Site #21: Butch Merigoni "Sunrise" 9001 Pritchard Place, New Orleans

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Please click on photos to enlarge. All images ©Courtney Egan

"'Sunrise' is a boxing match in which I will be the only contender. The bout will begin at 6 p.m. on Monday August 6th and end the next day as the sun fully rises (appx. 6 a.m). The consecutive rounds will be 3 minutes in length, divided by 1 minute breaks. Other breaks might be taken out of necessity. This performance will take place on a makeshift boxing ring built in front of Gregory White's home in New Orleans. His neighborhood, a community that is a quarter of what it was before Katrina, is one of many still struggling to rebuild.

The challenges of darkness (literal and metaphorical) truly exist in our lives, no matter how conscious we are of them. Though I will be standing in the middle of what can be the fearful night and repeatedly surrendering, I trust that I will come out whole into the clarity of the next day. In this regard, 'Sunrise' is symbolic of the devotion and risk that life in post-K New Orleans demands of its citizens.

Visitors are welcome to visit the performance at any time but I invite those who make the trek to stay for as long as possible. Given that 'Sunrise' is essentially about allowing quiet space to grow out of surrender, and falling into that space once it has opened, this process will take time. By investing in the performance of 'Sunrise' (the audience is as much a part of the work as anything else) you will participate in the performance and make it your own - it is as much for me as it is for everyone struggling to "let go" and recover their lives. That said, 'Sunrise' is especially dedicated to Gregory's family for many reasons, the least being that their contribution to this performance is priceless.

- Butch Merigoni

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Site #20 "Today" Maxime Demetrio/Naftali Rutter: Charbonnet b'w Burgundy and Dauphine, Holy Cross

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"The intention of the "Today" Project, which will consist of two installations in New York and New Orleans, is to express love and hope, and forge a bond between the people who call each city home. Both installations are designed to create a visual portal where two communities can metaphorically gaze into each other's worlds.

"Today" in New Orleans is a mixed media mural comprised of a wheat-paste print of two doors and stoops of NYC brownstones. This acts as a symbol of life in Brooklyn. The word "enter" is spray painted around and on the wheat-paste mural. This piece was installed in the Holy Cross area of the Lower 9th Ward. Visiting the city (we live in New York) and connecting with the people who live there has been unforgettable and influential. The process of being sensitive to the site, gaining permission, and including folks in the process took the graffitti, which is generally considered "art vandalism", to a deeper level.

The Brooklyn sister piece will be a similar wheat-paste and graffitti mural of a Lower 9th Ward stoop leading to an absent house - a symbol of the continuing struggle in New Orleans." Maxime Demetrio

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Site #19 "Bright Light Satellite" Citizen Action: Caffin at Galvez, Lower 9th Ward

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This installation, located around the corner from the "original" "Bright Light Fence", spontaneously appeared, an aesthetic hybrid, an outgrowth, like bamboo it spreads rhizomatically. Given that part of the intention of the "Bright Light Fence", using simple materials in an accessible fashion, was to positively inspire an, "I can do that!" reaction, the appearance of this satellite fence brings the AiA agenda full-circle.

The bottles are filled with dyed water and manually typed messages wrapped in wax paper. There is no mark of "authorship" and the land-owners are completely supportive. The original "Bright Light Fence" was recently demo'd, along with the house of its owner's, after almost 2 years of exhausting work on their part to move on to rebuilding. Both the destruction of the "original" and the sprouting up of this satellite reinforces many of the philosophies underlying the AiA manifesto.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Site #18: "Deep Water Dates" Courtney Egan: Broad at Banks, Mid City

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"The history of flooding in New Orleans reveals some fascinating, comforting and unsettling stories. How come I've never heard these stories before? On a visit to the Historic New Orleans Collection, I met with the encyclopedic John Magill, who told me a memorable tale about the Bonnet Carre river crevasse of 1871. A giant break in the levee upriver pushed so much water into the lake that the Hagan Avenue levee broke and flooded areas of the city that were populated then, such as Mid-City, for MONTHS. People resigned themselves to living in their flooded homes, on the 2nd stories or on top of furniture. Food and staples were delivered to them by boat. Like Katrina, this flood was also a media sensation, with reporters from all over the nation arriving in droves to chronicle the event.

An informative paper about the history of drainage can be found here.

An interesting detail: a group of women in 1899 lead a successful battle to pass a tax, heavily opposed by many property owners initially, to fund the creation of the Sewerage and Water Board. The new S&WB's implementations - the pumping system, for one - so improved the sanitation of the city that yellow fever abated, life expectancy instantly increased, and commercial growth boomed. The population of the city almost doubled within the next 25 years.

The other effect of the S&WB and the population boom was that people began settling in some of the lowest areas in the city, where land had become "habitable" because of the new drainage technology. Where did the memory of horrible past flooding go? Some floods happen slower than others, allowing more evacuation time and less loss of life ­ supposedly in the 1871 flood, the waters rose about 1 foot every 36 hours.

How will we remember Katrina in 30-40 years? How will it affect where we continue to live and how we live?

The idea for this piece initially came from wanting to make permanent in some way the Katrina water marks that are slowly disappearing around the city. Shawn Hall put the history bug in the project, waterlines through time. I still may try to make more Katrina markers, and only do the "through time" parts in a few neighborhoods, like in Broadmoor, which became a 9-foot deep lake during Sauve's river crevasse of 1849, and in the lower 9th ward, which suffered uniquely from Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and from other flood events due to its geography and the intrusion of large man-made canals in the area.

During the May rainstorm flood of 1995 I lived near this installation, between Tulane and Banks on N. Rendon. My car flooded over the engine. I called work to let them know I wouldn't be in, and no one knew there had been a flood! They all lived in higher areas. The water during Katrina, only 10 years later, was 7 -8 feet deep around this corner, maybe more. This neighborhood is always impacted by floods, yet the people and the businesses return. Broad St. is a busy thoroughfare, with cops passing constantly on their way to the courts and the jail, which made installation nerve-racking, until we realized that the cops didn¹t care about two white girls with a drill working on a phone pole in the rain. A local guy, "Sergeant Joe," stopped and talked to us about his Katrina experience and other flood experiences, on his way home to celebrate his birthday. I hope the colors in the piece attract attention and get more people interested and aware of the long history of flood events in the neighborhood." Courtney Egan