Gulf South Open Call: Who lit the fire?

Who lit the fire? is the CAC's 10th Annual Gulf South Open Call, curated by Anita N. Bateman, Ph.D. The exhibition will open on August 5th and run through October 8th, 2023.

“Who lit that fire? Who burned that orchard? Who shot those brothers who laughed their whole lives long?...”
-Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown (2005)

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”
-Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964

Who lit the fire? asks the question, “What are the unrealized potentials imagined in the eradication of systemic oppression that move us beyond the necessity for resilience and responsiveness to perpetual threat?” The exhibition explores the liberatory ethos and productive frictions that undergird emergent strategies and shift our understanding of dissolution, revolution, and resolution against varied forms of supremacy. The works presented in Who lit the fire? harness radical imagination through frameworks that broadly consider abolition(ism), liberation, environmental sovereignty/justice, diasporas, and speculative ontologies. Together, this exhibition seeks to champion artistic works and practices that propel us toward a yet unrealized vision of the future.

Anita Bateman earned a doctorate in art history and visual culture and graduate certificate in African and African American Studies from Duke University, a master’s in art history from Duke University, and completed her undergraduate degree in art history, graduating cum laude from Williams College. She has held curatorial positions at the RISD Museum, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the Nasher Museum of Art. Her academic research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Bateman was the Fall 2022 ARCAthens Curatorial Fellow and a 2022 Graham Foundation grantee for the forthcoming publication, Where is Africa (Center for Art, Research, and Alliances), co-edited with Emanuel Admassu. She is currently the Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Exhibiting Artists:

Alexis McGrigg

Ana Hernandez

Andrew Blanchard

Angel Perdomo

Antoine Prince Jr.

Bethany LeJeune

Billion Tekleab

Britt Ransom

Caroline Sinders

Charles Muir Lovell

Chayse Sampy

Christopher Paul

Cynthia Mulcahy

Elliot Stokes

Elvira Michelle

Emery Tillman

Gabriel Martinez

Garima Thakur

Ian Gerson

Irene Antonia Diane Reece

Jagdeep Raina


Jeremiah Johnson


John Alleyne

Jon Gott

Jonathan Traviesa

Julie Lee

Kaima Marie Akarue

Kristen Tordella-Williams

M.E. Cobb

Marc Furi

Maria Lino

Mathieu JN Baptiste

Mirzam Perez

Rodney Woods

Sajeela Siddiq

Susanna Wallin

Teneille Prosper

Supported by

The 10th annual Gulf South Open Call is made possible through the generosity of the Greater New Orleans Impact Fund; the Welch Fund; and the RosaMary Foundation.

Programming and Exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans are made possible through generous support from: The Andrew Mellon Foundation; Art for Justice Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; The Helis Foundation, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Greater New Orleans Foundation Impact Fund; The Welch Foundation; The RosaMary Foundation; Greater New Orleans Foundation; the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council; Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation; National Performance Network; New England Foundation for the Arts; Josephine Whitney Nixon; Baton Rouge Area Foundation; Foley Family Charitable Fund; New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation; Coughlin Saunders Foundation, Inc.; The Freeman-Woollam Foundation; the Poeyfarre Fund; Nurhan Gokturk; George & Milly Denegre Fund; I. William & Jane L; Marrero Land Improvement Association; Virginia Wise & Kevin Wilkins Fund; CAC President’s Council members: Valerie Besthoff, Susan & Ralph Brennan, Dathel & Thomas Coleman, Robyn Dunn Schwarz & Andrew Schwarz, Aimée & Michael Siegel, Staci Rosenberg, Jane B. & Rodney Steiner, MK Wegmann & Lisa Mount, Dian & Tom Winingder, David Workman; and CAC Silver Circle members: Virginia Besthoff & Nancy Aronson, Jessica Bride & Nick Mayor, Leslie & Jonathan Fawer, John Foley, Tina Freeman & Philip Woollam, Marcy H. Monrose Curtis & Charles Curtis, Gina Monette, Greg Montgomery, Barbara & Biff Motley, Robin Rankin, Michael Schneider, Sharron Silvers, Jane & I. William Sizeler, and Gretchen & Scott R. Wheaton. We are also grateful for the generous in-kind support from The Shop at the CAC, The Domain Companies; Corporate Realty, and Selina Catahoula New Orleans; as well as our community partners: Mr. Wolf Espresso & Books; Prospect New Orleans; Voice of the Experienced; and Arts District New Orleans.

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