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Farewell, Fortuna

Dawn Dedeaux's installation piece for Prospect.2 is inspired by 'Confederacy of Dunces.'

To hear Sharon Litwin’s interview with Dawn Dedeaux on WWNO radio, please click here.

Prospect .2 is quietly drawing to a close. The citywide art event, which opened in October, features the works of 26 artists from nine countries. And if you get to it, there is still time to search out any number of wonderful creations before Prospect 2 closes down on January 29.

One installation, by New Orleans artist Dawn Dedeaux, is in one of the easiest venues to find, since it is located in the heart of the French Quarter. But don’t go during the day. It is only on view at night in the beautiful courtyard of the Brulatour Mansion at 520 Royal Street.

The Goddess Fortuna and Her Subjects in an Effort to Make Sense of it All is Dawn’s over-the-top multi-media installation inspired by author John Kennedy Toole, who never lived to see his extraordinary novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, published and then win the Pulitzer Prize in 1981.

Life-size 'dunces' gaze at the courtyard from the upper gallery.

Now, this is not a one- or two-paintings exhibit portraying Confederacy’s rotund protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly. Nor is it a single-room installation of a few pieces of sculpture or photography.

Oh, no; this installation, hosted by The Historic New Orleans Collection, contains 66 life-size robed figures, each with a dunce hat upon its head. There’s a “symbolic” recreation of Ignatius’s bedroom over the fountain in the courtyard; an audio piece of Ignatius’s favorite medieval philosopher Boethius’s text in Latin wafting from the staircase; and a special-effects video that appears as a mirage of the Goddess Fortuna herself.

There’s a lot to see here, folks. So plan on staying for a while. In her written statement about the work, Dawn explains why she created yet another element — a film – starring the Goddess Fortuna. On a continual loop, it is a reflection of her own riff on Ignatius Reilly’s meditations on pop culture.

“I cast the contemporary diva of New Orleans Bounce music, Katey Red, to play the role of Goddess Fortuna, accompanied by her two backup dancers as ‘wheelettes’ to spin the wheels of our fate,” she writes. “Where it lands – hurricanes, an oil spill, or a tsunami – nobody knows for sure. No doubt Boethius would say, in the end it really doesn’t matter.”

One has to wonder what Ignatius (or Boethius, for that matter) would think of the upcoming closing ceremonies for The Goddess Fortuna. Scheduled to take place on the evenings of January 27 and 28, Dawn is presenting a “sissy bounce opera” to conclude what she says is just Part One of an intended three-part homage to Confederacy of Dunces.

For more information on all the exhibitions included in Prospect 2, click here.

For more information on days and times of The Goddess Fortuna, click here.

Sharon Litwin, president of NolaVie, writes about culture and community in New Orleans.



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