Sunday, January 23, 2011

Call To Prayer: Church Bells in Harlem

I am interested in ritual. Why have certain rituals, beliefs, and iconography lasted for centuries while others are barely practiced anymore or known?

Christianity, Islam, and Jewish faiths are all very prevalent where I grew up in New York.

I have encountered various forms of these three faiths usually depending upon the geographical location. This summer in Israel I recorded some call to prayers by both Jews and Muslims. Back home currently in Harlem, I am encountered by a different form of Islam and practically no Judaism. The most prevalent religion in my neighborhood is Christianity, represented by numerous awe-inspiring churches. On my Sunday walks around the block I often hear prayer and song coming from within these grand structures, especially the Baptist and Methodist churches.

While I am not affixed to any religion I believe that there are instances where faith and ritual can bring a community together...Of course it can also divide a community by separating people by faith. The latter is often bewildering to me, especially because upon closer examination of both history and ritual, these three major religions have much in common.

In this series of variable media works, I will explore the presence of ritual and faith as I experience them either from an inside perspective or just as an outsider trying to look in. This first post is a field recording from my morning walk today where I passed by a Church with an unusual futuristic structure, The Episcopal Church of the Crucifixion (Google Maps) , while its bells began to ring. An older man passed me by saying "oh lord!" probably because it was so cold, but I thought that it was pretty appropriate either way.

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