James Webb

Prayer (Chicago)

Until May 3

Prayer is an ongoing project, remade around the world since its first presentation in Webb’s home city of Cape Town in 2000. The Chicago version was the tenth and largest to date, as well as the first version in North America. The work consists of recordings of prayer from individuals who belong to dozens of faiths and spiritual affinities in the host city. Listeners are invited to remove their shoes and walk the length of the carpet, composing their own arrangement of voices as they go, or to kneel or otherwise lower themselves next to a speaker to listen more closely to particular prayers. The spare though colourful installation has the austerity of a work of Minimal Art and the enveloping richness of a choral concert.

An experimental musician and visual artist with a degree in comparative religion, Webb initiated Prayer in Cape Town five years after his country ended its practice of apartheid. The word apartheid means segregation; Webb has created a work that emphatically brings people together. Prayers articulate a basic wish for communion and often serve to solidify a community of faith in a place of worship. By deliberately gathering prayers from a variety of neighbourhoods and spiritual practices and naming each of the participants and congregations, Webb aims to join together inhabitants of his host city.

The process for creating Prayer is collaborative and rooted in the place where it is installed. All participation by faith members is voluntary, and each community has received a copy of the recording for its own use.

This exhibition is made possible by the Artworkers Retirement Society. In-kind support has been provided by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


57th Street Meeting of Friends
Adrian Dunn Singers
American Indian Center
Ancient Dragon Zen Gate
Anshe Emet Synagogue
Ashwood Hearth
Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park
Bahá’í House of Worship
Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation
Bodhi Spiritual Center
Bosnian Islamic Cultural Center
Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center
Broadway United Methodist Church
Buddhist Temple of Chicago
Bultasa Buddhist Temple
California Indian Manpower Consortium
The Cathedral of Grace
Chalice of Heaven Lodge OTO
Chicago Japanese American Historical Society
Chicago Sinai Congregation
Chicago Temple
Chicagoland Prison Outreach
Christ Healing Evangelical Church
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Hyde Park
Church of the Table
Congregation Makom Shalom
Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago
Destination Church
Eckankar of Illinois
First Immanuel Lutheran
First Unitarian Church of Chicago
First United Methodist
Friendship Presbyterian Church
Garrett Seminary
Grace Chicago Church
Greater Saint Paul AME
Hana Center
Iglesia Nueva Vida New Life Community Church
Illinois Sikh Community Center
Interfaith Youth Core
International Alliance of Occultists
International Society for Krishna Consciousness of Chicago
Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago
Jamia Masjid of Chicago
Jewel Heart Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center
KAM Isaiah Israel
Lake Street Church of Evanston
Little Village Buddhist Center
Loop Christian Reformed Church
Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi
Masjid al-Faatir
Midwest Buddhist Temple
Mishkan Chicago
Mission of Love Christ Center Church
Mosque Foundation
North Suburban Synagogue Beth El
Occult Bookstore
Order of Saint Anne Chicago
Our Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church
Parliament of the World’s Religions
The Prayer Center of Orland Park
Rangjung Yeshe
Resurrection Lutheran Church
Roman Catholic Womenpriests
Saint Francis College Prep Sanctuary
Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church
Saint Henry Church
Saint James Catholic Church
Saint James Episcopal Cathedral
Saint John AME
Saint Lawrence O’Toole Catholic Parish
Saint Paul Coptic Orthodox Mission Church
Saint Thomas Episcopal of Chicago
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Second Unitarian Church of Chicago
Sheil Catholic Center
Side Entrance
Soka Gakkai International–USA Chicago
Soul City Church
Sri Venkateswara Swami Balaji Temple
Temple Sholom
Teotlecuilli Aztec Group
The Theosophical Society in America
Trickster Gallery
Tzedek Chicago
United Church of Christ
United in Faith Lutheran Church
Urban Village Church
Won Buddhist Temple
Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Chicago
As well as additional members of Chicago communities of American Indian, Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Pagan faiths

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