Prayer is presented on 12 modest, floor-level speakers mounted on a large, dark red carpet that will be installed in the Modern Wing Bucksbaum Gallery. 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 colorful installation has the austerity of a work of Minimal Art, and the enveloping richness of a choral concert.
Webb has been in Chicago since mid-July, making multiple recordings every day with assistance from museum staff and two dedicated students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has reached out to all areas of Chicago and nearby suburbs, from Edgewater to Humboldt Park to South Shore. Webb anticipates collecting more than 70 recordings and has spent time so far with the Midwest Buddhist Temple, First Immanuel Lutheran Church, and the Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago, among other communities of faith. All recorded individuals are named in the exhibition, along with their communities or congregations, and all faith groups receive a copy of their own recording. Most important, all participants are invited to attend an opening discussion and public preview on the evening of Thursday, September 6.