In the first ever major presentation in an American museum, the celebrated contemporary Indian artist has opted to design a site-specific installation. It connects two key historical moments – first, the First World Parliament of Religions on September 11, 1893, and the terrorist attacks that destroyed World Trade Center and the Pentagon on that very date, exactly 108 years later. The work creates a commentary on the evolution, or devolution, of religious (in)tolerance. A curatorial note elaborates:
“The basis for this installation is a landmark speech delivered by Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament, which was held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in what is now the museum’s Fullerton Hall. The Parliament was the earliest attempt to create a global dialogue of religious faiths, and Vivekananda, eloquently addressing its 7,000 attendees, argued for an end of fanaticism and a respectful recognition of all traditions of belief through universal tolerance.”With 'Public Notice 3', he converts Swami Vivekananda’s text to LED displays on the 118 risers of the Woman’s Board Grand Staircase of the institute, adjacent to the site of Swami’s original address. Drawing our attention to the great chasm between this proclamation of tolerance and the September 11, 2001 events, the text of the speech will be shown in the colors of the US Department of Homeland Security alert system. Curators of the show are Madhuvanti Ghose and Marilynn Alsdorf.
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