Seated in her Brooklyn studio, Kara Walker laughed often when recounting the process of building a performative sculpture, “Katastwóf Karavan,” for Prospect New Orleans. Its title incorporates the Haitian Creole word for “catastrophe,” and the artist’s two-year journey to make the work was a long, strange trip indeed.
The piece was intended to debut with the rest of this citywide triennial for art in November, but a blowup between the organizers and Ms. Walker, as well as the complicated and expensive nature of the piece, forced them to present it as a coda of sorts. The long-delayed installation goes on view Feb. 23 to 25 — the final weekend for “Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp.”
Located in Algiers Point right on the Mississippi River, the sculpture is a large pioneer-style wagon whose sides feature Ms. Walker’s signature silhouettes in water-cut steel, depicting violent scenes between masters and slaves in the Old South.
Inside, there is a custom steam-powered calliope (a propane tank heats water in a boiler, turning it into steam, which creates sound through large locomotive-style whistles). It will play songs of “black protest and celebration,” the artist said, both programmed and live, at regular intervals, by the jazz pianist Jason Moran. “We Shall Overcome” and the Marvin Gaye hit “What’s Going On?” are both on the playlist.