IdeasCity New Orleans: A State Of Exuberant Hybridity


Excerpt from Pin-Up magazine’s recap of IdeasCity New Orleans below:

(Words by Drew Zeiba; Photos by Sarrah Danziger)

On a sunny Saturday in New Orleans’s Tremé neighborhood dozens of people — architects, artists, musicians, poets, anyone, everyone — gathered in the courtyard of the Bell Artspace, a recently renovated conglomerate of live-work spaces for artists converted from an old middle school and former church. Coming from across the country and world, as well as from right in the neighborhood, the diverse group was there to celebrate the culmination of IdeasCity New Orleans, an interdisciplinary festival curated by V. Mitch McEwen and staged as the eleventh iteration of the New Museum’s roving curatorial program that was founded in 2011 to explore art, architecture, and urban space.

No place is like any other, but there is really no place like New Orleans. The locus of so many intersecting cultures and legacies — Chitimacha and other Native Americans; African Americans; Afro-Caribbeans; Creole peoples; Cajuns; French, Spanish, and Anglo colonizers; and now other national and global transplants — the present city is also in many ways representative of the distillation of the current crisis of capitalism-driven climate change, the enduring effects of Hurricane Katrina being just one example…

…While there were the festivities on the stage outdoors, the arguable centerpiece of IdeasCity New Orleans was taking place in a hollowed out 19th-century church just behind the stage. McEwen and IdeasCity had invited ten fellows from New Orleans and the surrounding area and ten from across the world to participate in a week-long residency program. (With the exception of two fellows, Louisianans Atianna J. Cordova and Hannah Chalew who spent a month working with design mentors to construct an easy-to-transport community engagement cart focused on green infrastructure and a mobile solar-powered sculptural pavilion, respectively, and showcased their work outdoors.)

…New Orleans-based fashion designer Chloe Dewberry (ODIE NOLA) created a provocative garment that interrogated the history of incarceration in the U.S. by confronting the wearer head-on: all the text on Dewberry’s denim apron, a mock “souvenir” from the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary (commonly called Angola prison) was upside down, designed to speak not out to the world but to the robed person. Visitors were invited to wear it and read critical dates related to slavery and incarceration that were literally threaded together and patched onto the garment like logos on a pair of jeans.

Read the full Pin-Up feature here.