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This Is How We Do Dat: Warsaw to New Orleans

8 Nov

This Is How We Do Dat: Warsaw to New Orleans
A talk by Polish curator Marianna Dobkowska, currently in residency at the Joan Mitchell Center.
Saturday, November 10th, 2 p.m., Joan Mitchell Center, Indigo Building at 2285 Bayou Road

Francis Thorburn VOJAGE WISŁA, 2012, courtesy of Magda Starowieyska/CCA Ujazdowski Castle/Francis Thorburn

Polish curator Marianna Dobkowska, a fellow of CEC ArtsLink, has spent the last month in residence at the Joan Mitchell Center exploring the visual arts scene of New Orleans. 

During Dobkowska’s talk on Saturday afternoon, she will present some of the projects she produced at Artists-In-Residence Laboratory, a residency program where she is a curator. Founded in 2003, Artists-In-Residence Laboratory is a department of the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, one of the major institutions of contemporary art in Poland. A-I-R Laboratory hosts up to 30 international artists a year and focuses on production and research based practices within the context of the residency treated as an artistic medium.

Marianna Dobkowska curates exhibitions, projects and residencies, edits and designs publications and produces new works at the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw. She studied art history at Warsaw University and curating at Jagiellonian University in Cracow. She was a curator and manager of the Polish-Norwegian production and research based project and exhibition, Rooted Design for Routed Living. Alternative design strategies and editor of the book under the same title as well as assistant manager of Re-tooling Residencies, a project dedicated to investigate the current condition of the residency models and fostering development of new residency-based initiatives in Eastern Europe. Dobkowska’s recent curatorial projects include a solo show of American artist Jesse Aron Green The Allies, a cycle of exhibitions of young Ukrainian artists Transfer and We Are Like Gardens – a permaculture garden established in the park surrounding CCA Ujazdowski Castle. Following the New Orleans residency, she will continue her research in New York as a Residency Unlimited fellow and in Mexico City at La Galeria de Comercio. During her residencies, Dobkowska focuses on social practice art, grassroots initiatives and programs that have a wide community base.

Marianna Dobkowska’s residency at the Joan Mitchell Center is supported by CEC ArtsLink within the ArtsLink Residencies program and Polish Culture Institute in New York.

More about A-I-R Laboratory:

Joan Mitchell Center 
2275 Bayou Road, NOLA 70119 504.940.2500 |

Better later than never! Report from NOLA

2 Nov

My time in NOLA is passing so quickly! There is definitely something with time here. This is the Northern Carribean after all, right? The city is mesmerizing and I met so many wonderful people here. I immediatelly fell in love with NOLA.

Shelley Boles, director of residencies at my host institution Joan Mitchell Center (JMC) – a new initiative of Joan Mitchell Foundation from New York – made me feel very welcome and JMC at Bayou Road is itself an amazing place, way beyond any expectations towards how comfortable the residency center could be. They will soon open a regular residency program first for American and then international artists.


Entrance to the Joan Mitchell Center at Bayou Road

I was very lucky as my explorations of the artscene begun already on the second day of my stay and I was from the beginning on the right track. On Friday October 13th I visited a very interesting and promising new independent space May Gallery & Residency run by Keene Kooper, for an opening of exhibition of Derek Larson and afterwards was immediately taken to the home parties with live music and very good food!

Every second Saturday of the month local artists co-ops who run exhibition spaces around St Claude Avenue in Faubourg Marigny – which seems to be the most hot art neighborhood in the city at this moment – organize joint openings. Local scene is very well self-organized. Artists are renting the spaces, share the loan and make shifts arranging their monthly shows. I visited Good Children Gallery , The Front, Staple Goods, Barrister’s Gallery and Home Space and later during my stay I had plenty of studio visits and meetings with the circle of artists from these organizatons.

My first days passed under the banner of New Orleans Film Festival and it’s guest renowned independent filmmaker and artist from Philippines Kidlat Tahimik. Kidlat was invited by a young filmmaker and curator Blake Bertucelli and hosted by JMC just next door to my room. It enabled me to spend hours on discussions with Kidlat who is a great artist and a very inspiring persona.


With Blake Bertucelli and Kidlat Tahimik

I had a chance to see his first film “Perfumed Nightmare” at Zeitgeist cinema, screened from 16mm projector (!) and followed by unforgettable live performance by Kidlat. New Orleans Film Festival closing party featured a live set by amazing DJ Spooky. What a night!


Poster for Kidlat Tahimik’s “Perfumed Nightmare”

In the first week of my stay I decided to meet with local curators and theoreticians. I started with Amanda Brinkman and Cameron Shaw running Pelican Bomb and The Drop. In the following days I met Angela Berry who assisted ex-curator of Contemporary Art Center (CAC) Amy Mackie as well as Miranda Lash, curator of contemporary art at NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art) and freelance curator Emily Wilkerson. All these meetings gave me good insight into the artistic scene and enabled me to build an intense program of studio visits. In the meantime JMC organized a wonderful dinner for me and visiting curator and artist at JMC Victor Davson which was a good chance to meet the local scene over exquisite Lebanese delicacies.


Dinner with local professionals and artists at Joan Mitchell Center

On Sunday 21st of October I participated for the first time in second line – amazing street parade and vigorous walking and dancing party accompanied by the best live music, happening every Sunday in different neighbourhood of NOLA. The intensity of experience cannot be described in words. This is the true spirit of New Orleans. Diversity and inclusiveness of this event gives good sense of what means the community here. The motto of every parade is “Leave your weapons and troubles at home”. Second line became my every Sunday priority.


Second Line in Uptown NOLA

I also made tours of the city with local practicioners and new friends. Architect Sergio Padilla gave me a tour of Lower 9th Ward, the neighbourhood which suffered the most during the Storm (Katrina). I visited Grocery Store For a Day project and also Brad Pitt’s Make it Right – new housing project with houses designed by some of the world’ most renowned architects (like Frank Gehry).


Grocery Store for a Day in Lower 9th Ward


Architect Sergio Padilla


One of the modern houses built by Make it Right in Lower 9th Ward


This is where the levees broke and houses were taken by the water leaving only a painful concrete scar marking the place where used to be a house, Lower 9th Ward

Artist Jim Richard invited me to visit his wonderful studio where we sat over the best Po-boy in town – brought from Sammy’s. This studio visit was followed by a tour to the lake area neighborhoods.


At Jim Richard’s studio

Young photographer of Polish descent Weronika Hartowicz took me on the canoeing trip with her friends to the swamps. Swamps are rapidly vanishing and New Orleans becomes a coastal city what cause big concerns about it’s future.


Into the swamps

I very appreciated a visit to a small Backstreet Museum. Situated in the typical “shotgun” home this small institution preserves and presents Mardi Gras costumes which are normally used only once and paraphrenalia of Second Line and Jazz Funerals.


View of one of the rooms of Backstreet Museum in Treme

I had plenty of very interresting meetings and studio visits with artists Nina Schwansee, Stephen Collier, Dan Tague, Sophie Lvoff (Good Children); Angela Berry, Dave Greber, Kyle Bravo (The Front); Margot Walsh – running Parse gallery, Hannah Chalew, Margaret Hull (T-lot), Delaney Martin, Wesley Stokes, Bob Snead and Avery Lawrence. More to come!


Avery Lawrence at his studio


Margot Walsh in front of her gallery Parse

I also had a chance to participate in the joint project by FEEST and Renessaince Project concentrated around topics of food justice including a culinary session where we prepared the famous cajun dish gumbo. All this was happening at JMC.


Cooking famous gumbo at JMC kitchen

And last but not least – I participated for the first time in Halloween party, which especially in New Orleans is very, very crazy! But all begun with helping kids costuming with my amazing friend and artist based in New Orleans Jackie Sumell.


Kids in Halloween outfits posing in front of Jackie’s house

More soon!