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James Webb
Residency 1–17 December 2022
Title James Webb Dates 1–17 December 2022 Location Resident's Studio Tagline For the first time, on the 22-year anniversary of the artwork, each instance of James Webb’s Prayer is installed and play sequentially.

James Webb visits A4 as an artist in residence to realise a special edition of his ongoing project Prayer (2000–), included in The Future Is Behind Us. This edition comprises all the recordings from the work's ten iterations from ten cities, recorded over 22 years. In the lead-up to the exhibition, Webb is more often found sitting cross-legged or lying in repose, shoeless, on the large red carpet that demarcates Prayer's field of quiet engagement; the artist carefully calibrating each speaker and audio file, drawing together disparate voices across time and space.

"I made the first Prayer in 2000, in the so-called (and in inverted commas) ‘post-apartheid’ city of Cape Town. Religion has always played a part in South Africa, both in Apartheid, as well as in anti-apartheid movements. I wondered: what would it be like to hear so many different people praying at the same time? I wanted the group; the many – the merging of different positions and beliefs. Prayer has since taken place in ten cities, over the span of 22 years. Each version of Prayer is of its moment. It’s not a municipal census. I ask people to help me, and those that will, do. I couldn’t make the work without them. Prayer creates kinship and community. My interest in this has created a problem I have to try and solve with the help of other people.

I think of these ten editions as time capsules. To pray locates one in the moment, honours the past, and perhaps, is desirous of some kind of future. Absence is a key thing in my practice; the imagination goes into that absence and attempts to populate it. Prayer, the artwork, is a request that is answered. This is a lifelong project. At least, I hope it is."
– James Webb in conversation with Josh Ginsburg and Sara de Beer, included in The Future Is Behind Us wayfinder