In celebration of the New Orleans Tricentennial, Newcomb Art Museum will present EMPIRE, an immersive art installation by Los Angeles-based artists Fallen Fruit, from April 13 to July 7 on Tulane University’s uptown campus.
The artists, David Allen Burns and Austin Young, used the vast archives and special collections at Tulane as material to create a complex visual narrative of New Orleans and its history of transnational trade and cultural rituals.
Commissioned by Newcomb Art Museum, A Studio in the Woods and Pelican Bomb, the exhibit explores the complex narratives of one of the country’s most important port cities and the dynamic culture that emerged from European, African, Caribbean, Latin American and indigenous influences.
"This is not a survey show, but rather an installation about how archives perform on the campus; it is a generative space of active looking and listening."
Artist David Allen Burns
“We spent over a year researching the vast historic archives and interviewing each archivist. The process was rigorous, intuitive, and full of unexpected treasures,” Young said.
In EMPIRE, Fallen Fruit intentionally includes historical records, ephemeral artifacts, artworks and objects culled from various archives across Tulane’s campus and recontextualizes them in the museum. The archives include those from the Amistad Research Center, Hogan Jazz Archive, The Latin American Library, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane Law Library, Tulane University Archives, Middle American Research Institute, Newcomb Art Museum, Newcomb College Institute, Royal D. Suttkus Fish Collection / Tulane University Biodiversity Research Institute and Southeastern Architectural Archive.
EMPIRE invites viewers to creatively interpret the displayed objects, their connections and their juxtapositions to generate new meanings.
“This is not a survey show, but rather an installation about how archives perform on the campus; it is a generative space of active looking and listening — where all are invited to gather, and to enhance the various tapped bodies of cultural knowledge at Tulane,” Burns said. “Visitors may have repeat experiences, as with a prism or rainbow’s light spectrum, and see something different each time.”
The installation opens Friday, April 13, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with talks by the artists in the Woldenberg Art Center’s Freeman Auditorium. A public reception will follow from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the museum’s breezeway, Woodward Way. For additional programming and events, visit newcombartmuseum.tulane.edu.