20th Century and Contemporary, Books, Modern History, Museums/Exhibits, Video Interview

Jitish Kallat Gives Public Notice in the US

On September 11, 1893, the Parliament of the World’s Religions held its inaugural gathering at the Art Institute of Chicago. The purpose was to create a global dialogue and conversation between the world’s religious faiths. Among the speakers was Swami Vivekanada, Sri Ramakrishna’s chief disciple who later founded the Ramakirshna Mission. His popular speech emphasized universality and religious tolerance, and Vivekanada was the toast of the American and international press covering the two-week parliament.

It goes without saying that we remember September 11 differently today, but Vivekanada’s words deserve a place in our memory. Last year on the anniversary of the speech, Indian artist Jitish Kallat installed “Public Notice 3” at the AIC to juxtapose the disparate history of religious tolerance and fanaticism associated with the day. Inspired by Vivekanada’s words, Kallat’s installation features the text of the speech around the risers of the historic Woman’s Board Grand Staircase, illuminated in the five colors of the US Homeland Security threat coding.  This exhibition also marks the first major presentation of Kallat’s work in an American museum, and the importance of resonance and how the space of the AIC holds the speech was central to Kallat’s design.

Watch the AIC video of a conversation between Kallat and AIC curator Madhuvanti Ghose, who edited the exhibition catalog, out now from Yale University Press.

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