Prospect.1 is a hard act to follow. It was big, sometimes gaudy, sometimes subtle, but always substantial and very expensive, with cost overruns exceeding $1 million. Prospect.2 is more modest — its 27-artist roster is one-third the size of P.1's — and its exhibitions are less extravagant. It was hard to get any sense of what it would look like from its eclectic mix of featured artists slated for a constantly changing list of venues, but now that the expo is open it can truthfully be said that former director Dan Cameron has again pulled a rabbit out of his hat. It's not knock-your-socks-off impressive like P.1, but it is a very intriguing expo with an intimate quality perhaps more appropriate for these financially constrained times. What makes it work is Cameron's intuitive genius for weaving the art with various parts of the city in ways that can be unexpected or occasionally even epiphanous. I'm not big on Sophie Calle, whose word and image narratives can be repetitious, but her tiny text panels at the 1850 House in the Pontalba are refreshingly subversive in that setting. Similarly, William Eggleston's rarely seen black-and-white portraits work well with his bizarre 1974 Stranded in Canton video vignettes of crazed Southerners — like a Hunter S. Thompson take on William Faulkner — at the Old U.S. Mint, where they somehow complement An-My Le's delicate photographs of Vietnamese communities in the Mekong Delta and eastern New Orleans.
Like its predecessor, Prospect.2 seems to have brought out the best in some elements of our burgeoning community of emerging artists. The most spectacular single thing I saw on P.2's opening Saturday was at a satellite facility, at the 9 p.m. performance of New Orleans Airlift's Music Box installation of musical shanties (pictured), fanciful huts constructed from salvaged house parts as electronic and acoustic musical instruments. Curated by Delaney Martin, Swoon and Theo Eliezer, and conducted by maestro Quintron, it fulfilled art's original function as an expression of metaphysical magic. It was truly unforgettable. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Through Jan. 29, 2012
Various venues, 756-6438; www.prospectneworleans.org