Waiting and Giving

As some readers may well know, tomorrow (November 22nd), marks the yearly American tradition of Thanksgiving. While many myths surround the holiday, its first celebration was believed to be a time for the colonists to "thank God for allowing them to survive a harsh winter in the New World." At times, presidents have altered the holiday's meaning slightly by focusing on the pressing matters of the time in their yearly Thanksgiving proclamations. In 2005, without making specific mention of 'New Orleans' or 'Hurricane Katrina' president George W. Bush briefly mentioned those "affected by the destruction of natural disasters." While anthropologist Neil Smith has deftly critiqued the myth of natural disasters and many debate whether Katrina should be categorized as a genocide, the contemporary art community has been less reticent than the commander-in-chief to address New Orleans today. Digital artist Paul Chan recently completed his two-week production, Waiting for Godot in New Orleans. Organized by Creative Time and curated by Nato Thompson, the project was deeply embedded within the local community from start to finish. Former New Museum Curator Dan Cameron has also recently launched Prospect.1 New Orleans, the largest contemporary art biennial in the US, wich will be held throughout the city and will be open until January 18, 2008. The project is intended "to help reinvigorate New Orleans following the human, civic, and economic devastation left by Katrina." In the wake of such a disaster, a harsh winter is a negligible if not antiquated crisis to survive.