On March 16, 2017, Creative Time and The New York Public Library (NYPL) launched a new collaborative venture, In Situ, a site-specific series of conversations pairing leading artists and public intellectuals to address critical topics of our time. The talks series is part funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and premiered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, with future events taking place at other iconic locations throughout New York City. With a half-century of expertise presenting landmark events between the two institutions, this collaboration between The NYPL and Creative Time presents dialogues that engage large and diverse audiences.
Creative Time has a long history of connecting artists, sites, and audiences. Likewise, NYPL is renowned for its engaging public programs, featuring a who’s who of art, literature and culture. Together, we address today’s most pressing issues in locations that resonate and transform those ideas.
The inaugural In Situ talk featured artist Janine Antoni and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek exploring “How to Reasonably Believe in God.” The conversation was moderated by Sister Helen Prejean. A performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir kicked off the event.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is pleased to have hosted this timely discussion, an expression of the Cathedral’s longstanding mission to provide a convening space for the important conversations of our time.
Sister Helen Prejean has been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on the death penalty and helping to shape the Catholic Church’s newly vigorous opposition to state executions. She became spiritual advisor to death row inmate Patrick Sonnier at Angola. After witnessing his execution, she wrote Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. Sr. Helen divides her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling death row prisoners. She has accompanied six men to their deaths – and began to suspect that some of those executed were not guilty. This realization inspired her second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, released by Random House in 2004. Sr. Helen is presently at work on another book – River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey.
One of the world’s most prominent and provocative intellectuals, Žižek is a philosopher, cultural critic and political activist. In his youth he was engaged in fighting the Communist regime in his country, while now he declares himself a committed Communist. Žižek has authored more than 75 books on subjects from Lacanian psychoanalysis, Marxist theory, Christian theology, and critique of ideology to cinema theory, but the core of his interest is Hegelian philosophy. Žižek has taught and lectured at universities across the globe and currently holds posts at NYU, Kyung- Hee University in Seoul and the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
Janine Antoni is a visual artist born in Freeport, Bahamas in 1964. She is known for her unusual processes – using her body as both her tool for making and the source from which her meaning arises. In each piece, a conveyed physicality speaks directly to the viewer, giving rise to emotional states that are felt in and through the body. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Creative Capital Artist Grant and the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. For ten years she has studied various forms of somatic movement modalities. Presently she is collaborating with choreographer Stephen Petronio and legendary movement artist Anna Halprin.
Further In Situ events, on the subjects of Immigration and Feminism, will be announced later in the year. For more information on CREATIVE TIME: creativetime.org