Misunderstood highlights work from the Kemper Museum Permanent Collection in conversation with themes from the current iteration of Prospect New Orleans, a citywide contemporary art triennial. Prospect.5, which opens in October 2020, is titled Yesterday we said tomorrow, and addresses the social body and the individual, the deferral of structural and political change, and a polyvocal retelling of history that is attuned to our complex era. Misunderstood's curatorial framework includes sites, sentiment, and the significance of where past and present converge on these issues.
Like New Orleans, Kansas City is regarded as an important location-historical and contemporary-for jazz music. Prospect.5's title comes from the 2010 studio album by New Orleans-born jazz musician Christian Scott, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow. Misunderstood is inspired by an original composition by Kansas City jazz musician Eddie Moore. Moore aptly appropriates Duke Ellington's voice from a 1960s interview, bracketing his lively instrumentals with the phrase "music of the future," followed by "music is music and there's going to be no symphonic music, no jazz music, there's just going to be music," emphasizing foresight into the evolution of past ideas, concepts, and categories.
Like Moore's theme for this song, works of art in Misunderstood––including Nicole Awai's Go Go Green Compression: Mix More Medial (2010) and Go Go Gone (2011), Romare Bearden's Family (1971), and Trenton Doyle Hancock's Good Vegan Progression #1 (2005)––make reference to breaking barriers. Informed by conversations centered on race, politics, and geography, these works each embody specific moments in time while being relevant to the present.
Misunderstood is co-curated by Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs, and Jade Powers, assistant curator at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.