Blights Out: Controls and Counter Reactions

Blights Out is a collaborative and creative initiative to unite natives of and newcomers to New Orleans in the design of a new model for development that shares the tools for locals to build the destinies of their own neighborhoods.

Our strategy of “performing architecture” combines artistic and activist strategies of acting within the civic environment to engage with urban blight; to create conversation around urban decay, disinvestment, and gentrification; and to build new systems that help to eliminate blight and create economic empowerment in New Orleans’ historically African American communities. To this end, Blights Out will purchase and renovate a blighted house, transforming it into a community space anchored to a community land trust.Action Painting/Collaborative Performance:In May 2015, local artists Katrina Andry, Ron Bechet, Amy Bryant, Keith Duncan, Horton Humble, and Carl Joe Williams engaged in a “live action painting” of portraits of houses in Mid-City/ Tremé. These site-specific works reflect their experiences with the blighted properties in that neighborhood. Each artist explored and responded to the past, present, and future of the overlooked property. This quiet event unfurled without PR attention—it was a humble opportunity for artists to meditate on the sensory experience of blight and to engage in dialogue with residents. This experience has culminated in Controls and Counter Reactions. The works created from that day are included the exhibition.The exhibition has been expanded to include a diverse group of New Orleans-based artists. Artists were invited to consider these ideas as reactions to our ever-changing environment. This exhibition also includes art works by Blight Outs participants who care deeply about housing issues in New Orleans.