carpetbagger: definition (okay its mine but it will do): Someone using malevolent seizure or a well-intentioned but still damaging takeover of a conquered or currently-at-risk culture or its goods.
"To carpetbag": Haphazardly embedding a project (or deliberately superimposing one large out-of-scale one over smaller ones) in order to take away or redirect the resources and services that are meant for the citizens to repair their lives. Once the resources have been eaten (leaving little except doorless houses), the carpetbaggers then move on to new fragile places.
Here's a short timeline:
The "artist" herself speaks: I fell in love with New Orleans before I came to the city. I met some people at a restaurant in New York and was so captivated by their spirit that I decided I would move to whatever city they were from. And of course that was New Orleans. I caught a train a couple of days (2002 or so from accounts) later landing, hilariously, in the middle of Mardi Gras without the slightest clue of what was going on. The first day I was presented with a Zulu coconut and I thought, “What is this, what is going on here?!” ...
...This said it is also fascinating for people riddled with ambition and drive in that, having been completely destructed, New Orleans is an empty slate for visionaries, enterprisers and builders of dreams.
Sooo, let me get this straight. You met some people in a restaurant, hopped a train and came to New Orleans. Huh.
I can just see it: hand on her Marlo Thomas hat winking at her own reflection in the Saks window.
and got a coconut that first day? why, you lucky thing...
And then you see the chance to work on an EMPTY slate for your own ambition.
okay got it.
so then next...
from her website in 2010:
Life is Art Foundation is dedicated to an ongoing conversation with our neighbors. Through art projects involving the greater social ecosystem, the project exists to cultivate creativity and inspire the hearts, minds, and economy of the St Roch neighborhood and its visitors. Integrated into our spaces is a summer urban farm and children's program. As with the houses, the farm serves as art space and vehicle for community evolution. During summer months, herbs and vegetables are grown with neighborhood children for eating and selling to New Orleans' best restaurants. There is currently no exhibition at Life is Art Foundation St Roch, but programs will resume in 2011. (emphasis added)
Hey, that sounds pretty good. herbs and vegetables, divided between the neighborhood chidren (it's for the kids right?) and the city's "best restaurants".
so which is it?
Did any of it even happen?
From Doug MacCash's TP 04/03/2011 article: "She also plans to re-establish the neighborhood garden that once occupied one of the lots. In the more distant future, she’s considering inviting artists to creatively demolish the remaining blighted houses as art performances.
Whatever happens, Kaechele will orchestrate KKProjects’ fate from afar. She said she has spent the last five months in Tasmania, an island state of Australia, and plans to return in April, leaving a director behind to manage the New Orleans site and upcoming exhibitions."
The MORE distant future? wow, I wonder if that even means in this lifetime? (someone check, is she a believer in reincarnation?)
and they wonder why neighbors fight against talk of "green space" and "public art". And why so many of us turned away when she and her group walked in.
Ambition and drive on an empty slate.
Bye Bye. Good luck in new lands. Or maybe good luck is needed for the people who live there.
Full MacCash/TP article: