press release

Prospect.5 "Yesterday we said tomorrow"
24.10.2020 - 24.01.2021

Preview Days: October 22–23
Opening Weekend Events: October 24–25

Prospect New Orleans is proud to announce its fifth edition, Yesterday we said tomorrow, curated by Artistic Directors Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi. Opening on October 24, 2020 and remaining on view through January 24, 2021, Prospect.5 will take place in museums, cultural spaces, and public sites throughout New Orleans. The exhibition will feature artists based in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe, many of whom will produce newly commissioned projects. Yesterday we said tomorrow also introduces Programming Partners, a new collaborative element developed for Prospect.5. The list of participating artists will be announced in the spring of 2020.

Prospect.5: Yesterday we said tomorrow will examine the ways in which the past informs the present. It will take a nuanced approach to history as a form of haunting and as a presence held in the land. Acknowledging time as cyclical and layered, rather than linear, the exhibition presents a range of artistic practices that attend to history as an ever-present specter in the individual and collective consciousness. Our current era sites us between the unprecedented and the familiar; as much as this is a time marked by unexpected aberration, it is also defined by the trajectories of our past. We have never been here; we have always been here.

The exhibition title Yesterday we said tomorrow is drawn from New Orleans–born jazz musician Christian Scott’s socially conscious 2010 album Yesterday You Said Tomorrow. The unspoken present is centermost in this frame, the site where past and future converge, which has always contained the possibility of other courses. Yesterday we said tomorrow addresses the social body and the individual––the phrase could be uttered in disappointment at the status quo or it could be said between lovers––suggesting the deferral of meaningful change. We understand social change and social failure to be tied as much to systems of power as to intimacy.

The exhibition also takes its cues from the specificity of New Orleans, a city where inextricable layers of history and culture are always present and where performance and resistance define daily life in ways both literal and metaphoric. Resistance and liberation have taken many forms; this exhibition emerges from strategies that rely on embodied, imagined, scholarly, irrational, felt, connective, and firsthand ways of knowing. Prospect.5 is interested in how artists might open up the space to reimagine ways of being and being together. The present, where both failure and possibility reside, is a moment we have to contend with together.

For Prospect.5, Keith and Nawi have convened a coalition of emerging cultural producers to create public programming in New Orleans throughout 2020 leading up to the triennial and during the exhibition: Grace Deveney, Kimberly Drew, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Kristina Kay Robinson, and Maricelle Robles. These program partners will realize a diverse range of events in collaboration with venues across the city, from museums and cultural centers to theaters and bars, bringing unique perspectives to the exhibition’s themes through their own work. They will develop programs in partnership with local organizations that illuminate, expand, complicate, and challenge the ideas of the triennial. The programming partner concept is a new model for Prospect and reflects the artistic directors’ dialogic approach to this exhibition.

The last edition of Prospect New Orleans’s triennial, Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp (P.4), took place from November 16, 2017 to February 25, 2018. This critically acclaimed exhibition featured more than seventy artists selected by Artistic Director Trevor Schoonmaker. During its run, Prospect.4 engaged over 100,000 visitors through the exhibition as well as educational and public programs.