Passage is an immersive, site-specific installation created for the New Orleans Museum of Art by contemporary artist Regina Agu and marks her first solo museum show. Inspired by the historical form of the panorama, Agu’s 100-foot-long installation weaves together imagery of waterways from across Louisiana to consider how the landscapes, people, and histories of the region are connected by and through water. Created to coincide with Inventing Acadia: Painting and Place in Louisiana, an exhibition of nineteenth-century landscape paintings, Agu’s project mines histories of landscape painting to explore the unique social and political geographies of the Gulf Coast. Drawing on Agu’s personal relationship to the region—the artist has deep familial ties to Louisiana, and grew up between Houston, the Congo, South Africa, and Nigeria—Passage reveals the complex global histories and present-day environmental concerns that mark this familiar landscape and environment.
Through a new partnership between NOMA and A Studio in the Woods, an artist residency program in Louisiana focused around art and environment, Agu revisited many of the sites painted by the nineteenth-century artists in Inventing Acadia, traveling by water from the Gulf of Mexico to Louisiana’s more inland lakes, rivers, levees, and canals. Sited in NOMA’s neoclassical entrance court, Passage will flow through the space like water, exploring issues ranging from land loss and environmental degradation to the legacies of slavery and colonialism, all while showing how these intertwined histories remain part of Louisiana’s landscapes today.