Think of the exhibitions you’ll see advertised around town as “PS Satellite” projects over the next couple of months as just that, satellites: entities affected by the gravitational pull of the main Prospect.4 exhibition in different ways while still remaining independent of it.
It’s a distinction to keep in mind if you want to explore the main, multivenue Prospect.4 show as a unified whole. But don’t look at satellite exhibitions as somehow subsidiary to the central Prospect experience. On the contrary, the best of them more than amply stand up as must-see shows in their own right.
Of those, the two-part “Sin Titulo” at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery and the nearby Art Gallery of the Consulate of Mexico may be the highest profile. And it’s definitely one to see if you want to get a sense of the incredible amount of artistic energy focused in New Orleans this season.
Curated by Prospect New Orleans founder Dan Cameron, the show collects the work of seven prominent contemporary Mexican artists and is described as the first of its kind to take place in New Orleans.
The Julia Street half of the show has a cool and appealingly cerebral feel, with the sinuous curves of Pablo Rasgado’s twisted assemblages of rebar and concrete echoed in the biomorphic abstractions in Martin Soto Climent’s photographic compositions. Things feel more immersive in the consulate’s Convention Center Boulevard space, with Hugo Crosthwaite’s large-scale wall paintings providing a feverish undercurrent to Rasgado’s literal and figurative excavations of space and culture.
Cameron is also credited as “interlocutor” for an eye-popping installation by the artist collective known as "assume vivid astro focus" at Good Children on St. Claude. Abstract lightforms, pixelated videos, and (mostly unprintable) variations on the collective’s name are projected on the walls of the gallery in a dizzying and disoriented kaleidoscopic display of sound, color, faces and information.
But it’s not just about trippy visuals: The collective also seeks to transform the gallery into “a community resource for others to act out their fantasies of artistic virtuosity.” That translates to an interactive performance component whereby participants are invited to share their talents (“from the traditional to the practical to the undefined”) and sign up via the gallery website for a public performance slot over the first weekend in January.
Several PS Satellite shows also coincide with the citywide PhotoNOLA festival, and “Clickbait” at The Front deftly bridges the two with its combination of conceptual experimentation with more traditional image-based representation. Highlights here include Tara Wray’s poignantly creepy photographs of dogs in cars; Devin Lunsford’s enigmatic studies of shadow, light and reflection; and Robyn Leroy-Evans’s surreal domestic self-portraits.
But perhaps the most unusual show in the PS Satellite orbit this month is one that’s also in a category all by itself: At the Pelican Bomb Gallery X in Central City, “Queer Tropics” helps make up for the relative lack of queer representation in the otherwise inclusive main Prospect.4 exhibition and seeks to “(look) to the tropics to examine the intersections of aesthetics, landscape, and otherness”, according to curator Charlie Tatum.
That curatorial aim takes some wildly unexpected forms, like Pacifico Silano’s formally precise photo assemblage spotlighting appearances of tropical vegetation in gay erotica (and yes, it’s just as sexy and funny as it sounds). On the other end of the scale, Ash Arder’s astounding (and disturbing) “Experiment Station” sound piece takes a failed 19th century New Orleans-based agricultural experiment as its point of departure and ends up examining the violent repercussions of human activity on the natural environment as a whole.
It’s an idiosyncratic and thought-provoking show, and one more that underlines the richness of the art scene both within and outside of the Prospect orbit this season.
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“Sin Titulo” at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (400A Julia St.) and Art Gallery of the Consulate of Mexico (901 Convention Center Blvd., Suite 118) through Dec. 30
“assume vivid astro focus: avalanches volcanoes asteroids floods” at Good Children Gallery (4037 St. Claude Ave.) through Jan. 7
“Clickbait” at The Front (4100 St. Claude Ave.) through Jan. 7
“Queer Tropics” at Pelican Bomb Gallery X (1612 Oretha Castle Haley Ave.) through Feb. 25