Where Mary, 2020–2021. 4-channel video on 70-foot wall and marble sculpture, 11 min. Photo: Jonathan Treviesa

Progressive Destinations: A Conversation with Dawn DeDeaux

For multimedia artist Dawn DeDeaux, “between” is a place. Toggling media (video, performance, installation, sculpture), dimensions (two and three, object and experience), and time (past, present, and future), her work occupies spaces between things, ideas, and people. “The Space Between Worlds,” the title of her recent hometown retrospective at the New Orleans Museum of Art and an accompanying catalogue from Hatje Cantz, captures the ambiguity of betweenness at the heart of more than 40 years of genre-bending work. This is not to say that DeDeaux is neutral; on the contrary, her work quite resolutely reminds us that our planet is changing, and we must act. Social issues have long been her focus (she is an early pioneer of what is now known as “social practice”), and her work, now more than ever, demonstrates that humans must plan for the future with new urgency.

Leah Triplett Harrington: Let’s start with The Mantle (I’ve Seen the Future and It Was Yesterday) (2016–17), an ornate, antebellum-style mantel encased in silvery metal and topped with an excess of small memorabilia—everything from cartoon figures to classical busts, all covered with metallic sheen. What is this work, and what does it mean?
Dawn DeDeaux:
It’s an outgrowth of “Souvenirs of Earth,” an ongoing series that began in 2014. It imagines that we humans will have to take sudden leave of the planet . . .

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