Trevor Schoonmaker

Curator's Perspective Lecture Wed 24 May 2017 6.30PM-8.00PM The New School
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center
55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor, Room I-202
New York, NY
Free Admission
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Independent Curators International and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics collaborate on Trevor Schoonmaker's first public presentation of Prospect.4, the fourth iteration of Prospect New Orleans' international art exhibition. As part of ICI's Curator's Perspective—an itinerant public discussion series featuring national and international curators—Trevor Schoonmaker, Artistic Director of Prospect.4, will speak about his curatorial vision for this iteration of theTriennial, as well as specific artists and venues of P.4 for the first time.

Prospect.4, the fourth iteration of a citywide exhibition that opens November 16-19, 2017, finds inspiration in the lotus plant. This aquatic perennial takes root in the fetid but nutrient-rich mud of swamps so that its beautiful flower may rise above the murky water. The flower's grace is inextricably connected to the noisome swamp, just as redemption exists in ruin, and creativity in destruction. Viewed as a symbol of spiritual enlightenment in Buddhism and Hinduism, the lotus suggests the possibility of overcoming arduous challenges. It reminds us that, from the depths of difficulty and desolation, art brings the invisible to light.

Prospect.4 overlaps with the city of New Orleans's tricentennial celebration—the 300th anniversary of the founding of Nouvelle-Orléans by the French in 1718. Because of this serendipitous intersection, P.4 takes the city's distinctive character as a point of departure to investigate global concerns. As with prior Prospects, P.4 is committed to being an international exhibition, while also directing more of its focus southward, placing greater emphasis on art and artists who engage with the American South and the Global South, particularly those from North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the European countries that colonized these regions.

While participating artists will present a broad range of international perspectives, the works made and selected seek to resonate with the city of New Orleans—aesthetically, musically, culturally, spiritually, historically, and environmentally. This connective tissue will be reinforced through the physical footprint of P.4 within New Orleans. The citywide exhibition aims for increased density and linkage between its roughly twenty venues, ranging from major museums to public sites, with clear pathways and clusters that enhance the ease of navigation. In this way, Prospect.4 aims for visitors to get the most out of their experience, while ably and efficiently presenting the rich and diverse culture of New Orleans.
    • Curators Perspective Lecture Trevor Schoonmaker
Trevor Schoonmaker is the Artistic Director of the U.S. Triennial, Prospect New Orleans 4 (P.4), scheduled to open November 16, 2017. He is also the Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Hired in 2006 as its first contemporary art curator, he has been instrumental in shaping the museum's curatorial vision and contemporary art collection. His Nasher Museum exhibitions include Reality of My Surroundings: The Contemporary Collection (2015), Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey (2013), The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl (2010), Christian Marclay: Video Quartet (2009), Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool (2008), and Street Level: Mark Bradford, William Cordova & Robin Rhode (2007). He most recently co-curated Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art with Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. Southern Accent, on view until January 8, 2017 at the Nasher Museum, explores and reframes the way we look at the complex and contested space of the American South in contemporary art.

Prior to the Nasher Museum, Schoonmaker's exhibitions included The Beautiful Game: Contemporary Art and Fútbol (with Franklin Sirmans, 2006), DTroit (2003), Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti (2003), and The Magic City (2000). His exhibitions have been presented at museums in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Cincinnati, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Manchester and London. He is the editor of several exhibition catalogues as well as the book Fela: From West Africa to West Broadway (2003). In 2001 he cofounded New York's first Afrobeat club night Jump N Funk with DJ Rich Medina, and in 2013 he curated the artwork for Luaka Bop's LP release of Who is William Onyeabor? Schoonmaker serves on the board of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Organized by Independent Curators International in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.

The Curator's Perspective is a free, itinerant public discussion series featuring U.S. and international curators, and developed as a way for audiences in New York to connect with timely information about a wide variety of international perspectives on contemporary art today. The series sheds light on movements and models that are still in formation or have been overlooked. This year, speakers in the series will include curators based in Medellín, Münster, and New Orleans, addressing questions about art, culture, and the exhibitions in which they are most interested, as well as the artists and the socio-political contexts that are shaping curatorial practice now.


The Curator's Perspective series has been made possible, in part, by grants from the Hartfield Foundation and by generous contributions from the ICI Board of Trustees and ICI Access Fund. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council.

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