The Parliament Blog

New Art Reflects on 9/11, Religious Tolerance

September 11, 2010-January 2, 2011

CHICAGO—The Art Institute of Chicago will present a site-specific installation on the anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s historic speech of September 11, 1893 to the first World Parliament of Religions. In a new work entitled Public Notice 3, artist Jitish Kallat connects the date of Swami Vivekananda’s address to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in a meditation on religious tolerance.

The 1893 Parliament, held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, marked the birth of interreligious dialogue and the first formal gathering of representatives of eastern and western spiritual traditions. Iconic Hindu spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda urged an audience of 7,000 to practice tolerance and universal acceptance of all faith traditions.

Exactly 108 years prior to the 9/11 attacks, Vivekananda closed his address by saying, “I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.” His words were met with a standing ovation.

Public Notice 3 will display the text of Swami Vivekananda’s address in LED colors corresponding to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security alert system on the risers of the Woman’s Board Grand Staircase in Fullerton Hall, the exact site of the address 117 years ago. The exhibit will be the first major presentation of Indian artist Jitish Kallat’s work in an American museum.

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