Remembering 9/11 at The Art Institute

“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.” – Swami Vivekananda

On September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda expressed his message of unity and tolerance in an address at First World Parliament of Religions. Held in what is now the Art Institute’s Fullerton Hall, the Parliament was held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Steps away from where his speech was delivered, Vivekananda’s words are memorialized in Public Notice 3, an art installation by Jitish Kallat.

Kallat’s work displays the text of the speech in LED displays on the steps of the magnificent Woman’s Board Grand Staircase. As a juxtaposition to the transcendent message of Vivekananda’s address and a reflection on the events of September 11, 2001, its text is displayed in alternating colors of the Department of Homeland Security alert system.

Today is the closing date of Public Notice 3, which has been on display since September 11, 2010. The Art Institute will also offering visitors a place for reflection on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in Fullerton Hall, the site of the Parliament and its message of religious respect worldwide. As we remember the anniversary of 9/11, let Kallat’s powerful installation be a reminder that while there is much ground to be covered in the path toward tolerance, the first steps must begin with us.

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