Monday, March 31, 2008

Site #28: Kathy Randels "Spaces In Between" 6860 General Diaz, Lakeview

Google map

"Spaces in Between" is an account of events that took place in Kathy Randels’ birth home during her first 18 years. 6860 General Diaz became the pastorium of Lakeview 'Baptist Church in 1966 when her father James Richard Randels was their pastor. His family lived there until 1993. Subsequently, two other pastors and their families lived in the house. In the days following Hurricane Katrina, the house was submerged in 8’ of water. Two years later, the church has decided to sell the property. This will be the final performance of Spaces in Between.

In this performance Kathy Randels plays a spirit, The Black Lady, who leads the audience through all the rooms of the gutted house, sharing moments when she haunted the family, Kathy in particular. The piece is an extended monologue by The Black Lady, who directly addresses the audience. It is divided into sections based on the room in which she is speaking.

The Black Lady is a shape-shifter who dances in between the realms of the living and the dead. She is named for the color of her costume. (Crna Dama, in Serbian, does not have the same racial implications that “The Black Lady” has in American English.) Kathy inherited the character from Tina Milevojevic of Dah Teatar in Belgrade, Serbia, who created her for Dah’s original performance The Helen Keller Case. Randels took over that role in the fall of 1998/spring of 1999, but the performance came to an abrupt end in March 1999 when, while performing in New Zealand, NATO began bombing Serbia and Kosovo. Randels carried The Black Lady’s costumes and props home to the U.S. and has embodied her in several pieces since, including two performance protests. For Randels, The Black Lady has become an instrument for addressing social or governmental injustices.

"Spaces in Between" was originally created as a part of the first of "HOME, New Orleans? Lakeviews" community art events. "Spaces in Between" was conceived, written and performed by Kathy Randels. The installation was designed and created by Ms. Randels with Takako Uemura. Technical direction, lighting, and sound design were created by Sean LaRocca.

ArtInAction would like to thank Jan Gilbert for her generous support of this project.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Site #27: Rian Kerrane/Frahn Koerner/Anastasia Pelias "The Apostolic Project" 725 Forstall Street, Holy Cross

Google Map

"Searching the Holy Cross neighborhood for our ARTinACTION site location we were drawn to the gutted property at 725 Forstall Street. This 100 year old house with its beautiful live oak tree compelled us to use it as our site and ARTinACTION made this possible. While researching the site's history, a helpful neighbor, Mr. Albert Scott, told us the house had been the parsonage of the Upper Room Apostolic Church where Pastor Curtis Gales lived with his family before Hurricane Katrina. Thus began a process of outreach that deepened our connection to Holy Cross and informed this creative process.

The little white house that so grabbed our attention sits behind the boarded up
Apostolic Church, which until August 29, 2005 was an integral part of its neighborhood. Pastor Gales led the 100+ congregation devoted to community-based civic service, providing basic necessities to countless needy families throughout the years. Now living in San Antonio TX, Pastor Gales and his family remain exiled, like many of the Apostolic Church's congregation since the levee breaks of Hurricane Katrina. The church has not yet been able to re-open.

"The Apostolic Project" is installed in the former parsonage. The interior of the gutted house is filled with thousands of hand folded paper boats - a resonant symbol in a complex historical site. These sculptural boats were made collectively, many in collaboration with people from all over New Orleans - sharing this process added a vital layer of meaning to the work. Also included are representations of pomegranates which have a rich mythology in many cultures, symbolizing birth, death, and rebirth - perfect metaphors for a city struggling to rebuild post-disaster. A hand-made decorative crown is installed on the roof, honoring the church’s purposeful benevolence. This is intended to question the responsibility of a city consumed with catering to a tourist industry's idea of celebration while neglecting its own people, from whom tradition and celebration naturally emanate." - Artist/s Statement

ARTinACTION would like to thank Pastor Curtis Gales, Emmanuel Elam, and Marc Guilbeau whose generous support made this project possible.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Site #26: NOCCA Visual Art Renegades "Black, White, Blue" Milne Boys Home: 5420 Franklin Avenue, Gentilly: Unveiling: Mar 15

Google map.

ARTinACTION is pleased to announce Director Elizabeth Underwood's collaboration with a collective of NOCCA visual art students on the former Milne Boys Home site in Gentilly. In their efforts to address the Milne Boys Home's history of segregation as well as the city's negligence regarding the removal of the blue tarps installed on the Milne rooftops post-Katrina, the artists worked with old and new blue tarps to "segregate" the blue with the surrounding landscape. Creating obviously sculpted mixed-media works amongst the tattered remaining tarps, a narrative is initiated exploring the tension between good intentions and neglect. At what point do the traces of disaster become integrated into the "new" environment? How responsible is "the human hand" in the construction (or deconstruction) of the aesthetics of a post-disaster community? Should a community that is fighting for attention embrace or critique the signs of this lack of attention? By raising a blue tarp on the flagpole, the artists make an ironic and proud statement expressing the power of victims of disaster to not just survive but thrive.

Milne Boys Home began in 1933 as a residential facility for troubled and needy boys. It was originally called the "Asylum for Wayward Orphans" and has gone through many incarnations - all proposing to tend to the needs of delinquent and impoverished young men. Since its inception, it has been under the jurisdiction of the Milne Trust, a private foundation that stipulates that the facility be run for boys. For some time now the City of New Orleans has been leasing the property from the Milne Trust.

ARTinACTION would like to thank Mary Len Costa, John Otis, Monty Burlingame, and the Milne Trust for their generous support of this project.