Dead Weight: Dueling Bridges on the Bayou
New Orleans, 2065: active, beautiful waterways sustain the city. The divisive and undersized drainage infrastructure of the past is replaced by new beautiful, safe and interconnected waterways in a circulating system. Residents of New Orleans in 2065 will be able to step into a boat and reach any neighborhood of their booming city. Of course, with new canals come new bridges. These two monuments, static relics of a divided past, are re-purposed as elements of new civic infrastructure. Old crossings rise with new life.
Dead Weight is a proposal developed with Andy Sternad and exhibited in a group show titled monuMENTAL. Curated by Courtney Egan at Press Street’s Antenna Gallery in New Orleans, the show sought to fantastically reimagine Civil War-era monuments in New Orleans for the 21st century. From the call for submissions:
‘monu_MENTAL’ seeks to revise and revive one’s experience of local monuments. Many a New Orleans monument has skidded out of sync with contemporary mores, if not out of the local consciousness. Not content with these prominent displays of anachronism, we wonder what these monuments bring to our city today. Can these hunks of bronze be shifted, if only in our imaginations, to bring awareness to contemporary issues?
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Dead Weight proposes to use monuments to General PGT Beauregard and Jefferson Davis, historic arch-enemies, as counterweights for new draw bridges to connect over an active, reinvigorated Bayou St. John.
Read a thoughtful review of the monu_MENTAL show on Pelican Bomb, excerpted here:
“John Kleinschmidt and Andy Sternad provide the most succinct statement on how our monuments should be reinterpreted. Three posters in the style of a developer’s marketing push suggest that in 2065 we could have Dead Weight: Dueling Bridges on the Bayou. The pair imagines a city where Bayou St. John has been turned into a useful, navigable waterway, extended so that one could just hop in a boat and easily commute between New Orleans’ neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the monolithic monuments of Jefferson Davis and General P. G. T. Beauregard are recycled into counterweights for drawbridges across the Bayou. The warring generals rise and fall in perpetuity, enabling New Orleanians to go about their business, while the relics never actually meet, never touch, are never free to have a symbolic “fight.” Just as statues were melted down for munitions in World War II, here the statues are recognized as dead weight, of little cultural use to the city, repurposed to enable functional development—the truest form of beautification of this city.”