Over and Over The Waves

Exhibition/Sound Installation/Live Musical Performances- Prospect 5, New Orleans, Oct 2021- Jan 2022

This installation is inspired by the 1884 visit of Encarnación Payen’s 8th Cavalry Mexican Military Band to New Orleans for the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition. A massive seventy-six-member band, they played Afro-Cuban danzones and European waltzes and polkas throughout the city. The music of “The Mexican Band,” as they came to be known, seeped into the local repertoires of New Orleans bands and the catalogs of local sheet music publishers, and became one more chapter in the city’s larger history of musical and cultural encounter rooted in the music of the African diaspora and the afterlives of enslavement. Linked to their popularity, other Mexican ensembles and subsequent iterations of the original band performed in the area throughout the years following the exposition.

Archival objects are paired here with an original sound piece that joins the musical worlds of nineteenth- and early-twentieth century New Orleans to contemporary histories of migration to New Orleans and greater Louisiana. The sound installation is meant to be experienced in dialogue with the historical materials on display.

The band’s original repertoire has also been given to a group of New Orleans musicians whose backgrounds connect to Honduras, Ghana, Cuba, Morocco, and Black America. They will reinterpret the nineteenth-century songs for twenty-first century ears across a series of live performances.