For his forthcoming solo exhibition a the Johannesburg Art Galelry (JAG) artist James Webb is producing a Johannesburg-specific edition of his work “Prayer”, an installation in which sound recordings of prayers of diverse religious groups are played concurrently in a single environment.
The project is community-oriented, and seeks to make connections between the various religious communities in the host city, and facilitate public engagement with different ideas of religious devotion and communication. Webb is soliciting contact with as many faith groups in Johannesburg as possible, and invites members of the public who are affiliated to religious or spiritual groups to participate in the project .The Johannesburg edition of “Prayer” is supported by the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Goethe Institute. The project began in 1999 when Webb, a Religious Studies Graduate from the University of Cape Town, wanted a means of discovering all the religious groups that exist in his home city, Cape Town. Webb began visiting the many temples, mosques and churches of the greater Cape Town area and collaborated with them in making audio recordings of vocal worship. The resulting project brought together many of the faiths of Cape Town in an installation at the Iziko South African National Gallery for the 2004 Decade of Democracy exhibition.
Since then the project has received international critical acclaim, and city-specific versions of “Prayer” have been presented in Bergen (Norway), Birmingham (UK), Copenhagen (Denmark), Huddersfield (UK) and Nottingham (UK). Plans are also afoot for versions in Amsterdam and New York, each time using expressions of worship from only that city.
Interested participants will be asked to collaborate by allowing Webb to record prayers, hymn or readings that express their religious convictions. The prayer could be a recited text or an extemporaneous piece and should only be vocal (no musical instruments). All languages and styles of vocal expression are welcome, and recordings will be conducted at places preferred by participants.
Recorded prayers will not be modified in any way. The recordings will be presented on audio speakers in the gallery with full accreditation given to participants and their faiths, presented in a text on the wall of the gallery. Each audio speaker plays a separate, individual prayer, giving the audience a chance to explore the space and listen to either all the voices as a unified group or concentrate on one particular speaker. There are no visuals in the “Prayer” exhibition space. The essence of the work is educational and peaceful, creating a spiritually moving experience, as audience members are able to listen to, and share in, the prayers of the city in a respectful manner. The exhibition is open to the public, free of charge, and promises to be an enriching experience for visitors.
If you are interested in participating, or can be of assistance in contacting different faith groups and prospective participants, please contact Pauline Theart on 0769096231 or at