During a post-Katrina panel discussion with a group of New Orleans-based artists in early 2006, Dan Cameron '79, then-senior curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, just blurted it out.
"A biennial would go really, really well in New Orleans."
Now almost three years later, Cameron is helping revitalize the historically arts-rich city with the largest international biennial of contemporary art ever organized in the United States.
Prospect.1, which opened November 1, displays the works of 81 artists from 38 countries in museums, historic buildings and other found sites throughout New Orleans.
Cameron, founding director and chief curator of the event, said it was conceived as a way to "help expand on New Orleans' already rich cultural profile and galvanize art world participation in the city's post-Katrina rebound."
Organizers expect the 11-week event to draw upwards of 100,000 visitors from around the world.
The New York Times said Cameron "seems to have sensed that in the city's rawness a different kind of biennial was waiting to break free ... It proves that biennials can be just as effective when pulled off without bells, whistles, big bucks and the usual suspects. Maybe even more effective, especially if the local cultural soil is spectacularly fertile, and if there's a citywide need for uplift."
Cameron, who was recently appointed director of visual arts at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, has organized numerous large-scale and international exhibitions, including Dirty Yoga, the 2006 Taipei Biennial; NY Interrupted at Beijing 's pkm Gallery; and Poetic Justice, the 2003 International Istanbul Biennial. While chief curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York from 1995-2006, he organized retrospective exhibitions on the work of numerous mid-career artists from the U.S. and abroad, as well as acclaimed survey exhibitions like East Village USA and Living Inside the Grid.
Read the full New York Times review of Prospect. 1.