In Situ Talk One – March 16
“How to Reasonably Believe in God”
Janine Antoni in Conversation with Slavoj Žižek, Moderated by Sister Helen Prejean
With a performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025
Thursday, March 16, 2017
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.
About Janine Antoni
Janine Antoni is a visual artist born in Freeport, Bahamas 1964. She received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. She is known for her unusual processes. Her body is both her tool for making and the source from which her meaning arises. In each piece, no matter the medium or image, a conveyed physicality speaks directly to the viewer, giving rise to emotional states that are felt in and through the body.
She exhibits her work nationally and internationally and is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, Anonymous Was A Woman Grant, Creative Capital Artist Grant and the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.
For ten years she has studied various forms of somatic movement modalities to inform her sculpture. Presently she is collaborating with choreographer Stephen Petronio and legendary movement artist Anna Halprin.
About Slavoj Žižek
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.
About Sister Helen Prejean
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 travels around the world giving talks about her ministry. She considers herself a southern storyteller. Sr. Helen is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. She spent her first years with the Sisters teaching religion to junior high school students. Realizing that being on the side of poor people is an essential part of the Gospel she moved into the St. Thomas Housing Project in New Orleans and began working at Hope House from 1981–1984. During this time, she was asked to correspond with a death row inmate Patrick Sonnier at Angola. She agreed and became his spiritual adviser. After witnessing his execution, she wrote a book about the experience. The result was Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. It became a movie, an opera and a play for high schools and colleges. Since 1984, Sister Helen has divided her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling individual death row prisoners. She has accompanied six men to their deaths. In doing so, she 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, which was released by Random House in 2004. Sr. Helen is presently at work on another book – River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey.
About Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir
The Church of Stop Shopping is a project directed by Savitri D. The radical performance community has sung their secular political gospel music in Redwood forests, in the middle of traffic jams in the Holland Tunnel and out in Ferguson, Missouri and Standing Rock. Directed by Savitri D, their direct actions include cash register exorcisms, retail interventions, and cell phone operas. The choir is a diverse array of economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds and has members from every continent except Antarctica (but they’re working on it!), and has toured in Europe, Africa, South America and throughout North America. Music director is Nehemiah Luckett.
About The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is located at 1047 Amsterdam Ave in Manhattan, and is accessible via the 1 train, and the M4, M11, and M104 buses.
(Photos: Christos Katsiaouni)