Re:Presenting New Orleans
“Imagine a monument to New Orleans.”
Over the last year, more than 800 people have generously shared their time, thoughts and talents with us by filling out a Public Proposal responding to this statement. New Orleanians have written prose and poetry, have drawn, have collaged their ideas into a forest of incredibly imaginative prospective monuments.
Proposals continue to pour in, from events hosted by a wide range of local organizations and institutions, and from our partners at local bookstores, arts spaces and public libraries. Every one is archived at the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans, but they do not simply sit there.
Since the beginning of the Paper Monuments process, incoming proposals have served as inspiration for our team as we reach out to artists and storytellers to create posters which re:present stories of people, places, movements and events which shape our city. This summer, our team member Isa adapted selected Public Proposals into proposals posters which can be seen installed on Canal Street, on Elk Place and online.
We’re working now on the next phase Paper Monuments installations, an ephemeral series called ‘Re:Present New Orleans.’ As with so many aspects of this project, the name carries double meaning.
The pieces created for Re:Present will be temporary, appearing in public spaces shortly after Mardi Gras 2019 and remaining not much longer than the Lenten season. And as monuments whose primary materials will be paper and paper products, many will be composed of ephemera - “transitory written or printed matter not meant to be retained or preserved”, from the Greek “ephemeros”, meaning '“lasting only one day”.
Artists who submit proposals to the Re:Present series provide three themes on which they are interested in creating works. Members of the Paper Monuments team then select Public Proposals from our database which address those themes, which will inspire the artists in their creative process.
Ten proposals will be selected, on criteria including the artist’s or artists’ plan to continue working with New Orleanians throughout their process as creative inspiration, to source materials, to stage and construct installations. We believe monuments should be by the people, for the people, and the Re:Present series will explore processes by which this aspiration can become reality.