Dec 02, 2007

well? shall we go?

Saturday's Times profiled artist Paul Chan and his work in New Orleans, especially his outdoor stagings of Waiting for Godot in the Lower Ninth and Gentilly neighborhoods. I loved the description, though of the signs Chan put up all over the city, in advance of the performances...

Sometime in October, new words began to appear. Printed on small cardboard signs, they consisted of the same three phrases: “A country road. A tree. Evening.” — an exact quotation of Beckett’s scene-setting for “Godot.”

The signs were designed by Mr. Chan and posted all over the city, in a distribution pattern that had a rhythm of surprise. Drive through a “good” neighborhood or a “bad” neighborhood and you’d spot one. At a traffic light, another one. On the boarded window of an abandoned shopping mall, another.

After a while the signs came to feel like a shared secret, or some bounteous but anonymous civic gift, the way Keith Haring’s subway paintings felt in New York in the early 1980s. They added up to a visual network, art as a connective tissue for a torn-apart town.

The whole piece is worth reading, as is this one from Doug MacCash and David Cuthbert of the Times-Picayune.