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Compassion

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Union Theological Seminary
3041 Broadway
Harlem
November 19 - December 20, 2009
Reception: Thursday, November 19, 6 - 8 PM
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An exhibition with Bas Jan Ader, Marina Abramovic, Michael Bühler-Rose, Alfredo Jaar, Terence Koh, Gareth Long, Yoko Ono, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Chrysanne Stathacos, Scott Treleaven.

The Institute of Art, Religion, and Social Justice is pleased to invite you to the opening of its first exhibition, Compassion. Join us at a reception at Union Theological Seminary at 6:15pm on Thursday, November 19th, and take a tour of this remarkable architectural complex.

In today’s shifting political, economic, and ecological landscape, the need for compassion has never been greater—compassion understood as mutual interdependence, knowledge of self and others, and concern for human flourishing. This kind of compassion requires seeking to know all aspects of human reality, being open to truths beyond our everyday experience and embedded in it. Artists often awaken compassion most profoundly. They form our imaginations such that we can envision our interconnectedness in ways that mere didacticism cannot achieve.

Compassion uses the buildings of Union Theological Seminary to create a kind of pilgrimage. The works are situated in various locations to create a tour of this remarkable and often overlooked historic complex.

Alfredo Jaar’s Embrace (1995), from his Rwanda series, greets the visitor in the Hastings lobby. Scott Treleaven is featured in the James Chapel with black and white photos from Cimitero Monumentale (2009). Marina Abramovic’s video 8 Lessons on Emptiness with a Happy End (2008) shares the Narthex with Yoko Ono’s Whisper Piece (2001). If the visitor strays to the other end of the building, she might find Bas Jan Ader’s iconic image I’m too sad to tell you in the Burke Library, echoed in the plaintive chant of Michael Bühler-Rose’s liquid ritual I’ll Worship You and You’ll Worship Me (2009), which can be found in the upper reaches of the Rotunda. Chrysanne Stathacos’ Rose Mandala Mirror (three reflections for HHDL), also in the Rotunda, was originally created in honor of the Dalai Lama. While circumnavigating the cloisters that link the various spaces of the seminary, watch for further works by Sister Corita Kent, Gareth Long, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya.

The Institute of Art, Religion, and Social Justice was founded under the auspices of Union Theological Seminary to explore the relationship between contemporary art and religion through the lens of social justice.

Compassion is curated by AA Bronson, Artistic Director of the Institute.

The exhibition is presented in conjunction with Karen Armstrong’s TED Prize 2009 of the same name.

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