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The Moody Center for the Arts and the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Houston are pleased to present A Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2019, a unique event bringing philosophers, musicians, artists, and authors from around the world together with the Houston community through a series of conversations and performances from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. on January 26, 2019, at the Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University. The event is free and open to the public.

In honor of the Paris Climate Accord and the leadership of the French government in addressing climate change, the theme of the event will be ecology, with a keynote presentation by philosopher and Rice professor Timothy Morton and internationally renowned multi-media artist and performer Laurie Anderson. Known around the world for his thought leadership and publications on issues facing the global environment, Morton will launch the evening of debate with a talk titled, “It’s Not the End of the World. That Was a While Ago.” A Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2019 will explore how collective dialogue and cultural insights can prompt environmental action and motivate national and international change.

“On January 26, the Moody Center for the Arts will come alive with philosophical debate, music, dance, art, film screenings, readings, and much more,” said Suzanne Deal Booth Executive Director Alison Weaver. “We will open our doors to Houston at 7:00 p.m. and stay up past midnight for a marathon of engagement with one of the most challenging and critical topics of our time: ecology and the environment.”

“Following the Climate Accord in Paris, we are reminded of the importance of natural ecosystems and the role cultural spaces can play in allowing us to reflect on the most urgent questions within our shared global community,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the United States. “A Night of Philosophy and Ideas will bring environmental issues to the forefront, allowing us to engage in dialogue with American and French experts in Buddhism, literature, psychology, history, and much more. We have brought together an exceptional group of philosophers, musicians, artists, and authors to forge links and provoke ideas that will resonate long after the sun rises on January 27.”

Taking place for the first time in Houston, A Night of Philosophy and Ideas has been held in diverse international cities, including Paris, New York, London, and Berlin, and serves to link Houston to the larger international discourse. Throughout the night and into the early morning, philosophers and performers will present topics and debate ideas on a wide range of issues pertaining to ecology, including how environmental concerns intersect with ethics, religion, anthropology and social justice.

Participants will also enjoy musical performances, film screenings, and interactive performance artworks. For instance, Dale Jamieson, author and Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, NYU College of Arts and Sciences will give a talk inspired by the Beetles song: “(Almost) All You Need is Love.”  NASA oceanographer Josh Willis will perform as Climate Elvis, addressing the science of climate change through popular performance. Artist Jae Rhim Lee will demonstrate the benefits of committing our bodies to a greener Earth through a special burial suit seeded with mushrooms. Open Dance Project will perform periodically in the galleries throughout the night. Visitors can immerse themselves in a virtual reality experience through the 360° French film Planet ∞, by director Momoko Seto. The evening will culminate in an exuberant midnight performance by the New Orleans Hustlers Brass Band. 

We Were the Robots, an exhibition of new work by the French artist Michel Blazy (b. 1966) will be on view in the Moody’s Brown Foundation Gallery, with the support of the FACE Foundation - Étant donnés Contemporary Art program. Exhibiting for the first time in Texas, Blazy is known for working with live and mutating materials in projects that bring attention to the natural transformation of matter over time, often with elements of poetry and humor.


Michel Blazy | "Feu", 2018 | Exhibition : TIMELINE, Galerie des Ponchettes, Nice, France (July 7-November 4, 2018) | Copyright Adagp/Michel Blazy | photo ©Irek Starsiak

The Moody has commissioned Houston-based artist Natasha Bowdoin (b. 1981) to create a site-specific work that will fill the 24-foot wall of the Central Gallery. Known for her collage-based works made of cut paper and other materials, Bowdoin investigates the potential intersections of the visual and the literary, channeling the experience of reading into the activity of drawing while reimagining our relationship to the natural world.

WE ARE THE ASTEROID III, a conceptual, text-based artwork by Brooklyn-based artist Justin Brice Guariglia (b. 1974), will be featured on the West Lawn of the Moody Center for the Arts. The repurposed highway sign features texts by Rice Professor Timothy Morton, Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English and author of HYPEROBJECTS: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, among other publications.

Not OK: A little movie about a small glacier at the end of the world, directed by Rice anthropology professors Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer will be screened in the Lois Chiles Studio Theater, followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers, including Icelandic comedian Ragnar Hansson.

Not OK will be followed by the acclaimed documentary film, Living in the Future’s Past and the French documentary Tomorrow. Living in the Future’s Past, created by Susan Kucera and narrated by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, asks the question, “What kind of future do we want to live in?” and brings new insights into the environmental challenges confronting the modern world. Tomorrow, directed by Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion, showcases alternative ways of viewing agriculture, economics, energy and education and offers constructive solutions to global change.

Throughout the event, refreshments by event sponsors Phoenicia Specialty Foods and Buffalo Bayou Brewery will be available for purchase in the Café Philosophes, staged in the Moody’s open creative studio. Free coffee will be provided throughout the evening by Katz Coffee.

A full list of events may be found at: https://moody.rice.edu/nightofHTX.

A Night of Philosophy and Ideas is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. Check out the Cultural Events Calendar, a service of Houston Arts Alliance.

About A Night of Philosophy and Ideas

A Night of Ideas is an annual world-wide, marathon of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, readings, and music, organized by the Institut français, Paris.

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy has co-produced A Night of Ideas in New York City since 2015 and in Los Angeles since 2017. This year, events will take place in five U.S. cities: Houston (Jan. 26 at Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts); Washington D.C. (Jan. 31 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden); Los Angeles (Feb. 1 at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County); San Francisco (Feb. 2 at the San Francisco Public Library); and New York City (Feb. 2 at the Brooklyn Public Library). All events are co-produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Institut français, Paris, and local partners.

In Houston, the 2019 A Night of Philosophy & Ideas is co-presented by the Moody Center for the Arts and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

The program is made possible with support from Rice University’s Arts Initiative Fund, Humanities Research Council, and Creative Ventures Fund. The visual identity was created by La Rêveuse.

About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

The Cultural Services are a division of the French Embassy in the United States. The Cultural Services were first imagined in the 1930's by Paul Claudel. In 1945 General de Gaulle appointed Claude Lévi-Strauss as the first Cultural Counselor, with the mission of providing Americans (individuals and organizations) with access and resources to engage with French culture and promote it in their own communities.

Today, under the leadership of Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy and Permanent Representative of French Universities in the United States, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C and eight other cities across the country, the French Cultural Services brings artists, authors, educational and university programs to cities nationwide. It also builds partnership between French and American artists, institutions, and universities on both sides of the Atlantic.

Website: frenchculture.org
Social Media: @fr.culturalservicehtx
Phone: +1 713.985.3263
Address: Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Houston, 777 Post Oak Blvd., suite 600, Houston, TX 77056

About the Moody Center for the Arts

Inaugurated in February 2017, the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University is a state-of-the-art, non-collecting institution dedicated to transdisciplinary collaboration among the arts, sciences, and humanities. The 50,000-square foot facility, designed by acclaimed Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan, serves as an experimental platform for creating and presenting works in all disciplines, a flexible teaching space to encourage new modes of making and a forum for creative partnerships with visiting national and international artists. The Moody is free and open to the public year-round.

Website: moody.rice.edu
Social Media: @theMoodyArts | #atTheMoody
Phone: +1 713.348.ARTS
Address: Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University, 6100 Main Street, MS-480, Houston, TX 77005 (University Entrance 8, at University Boulevard and Stockton Street)

Hours & Admission:
The exhibition spaces are open to the public and free of charge Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and closed Sundays, Mondays, and holidays. Events and programs are open to the public through an advance reservation system. For schedule, tickets and prices, visit moody.rice.edu.

Directions & Parking:

The Moody Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Rice University, and is best reached by using Campus Entrance 8 at the intersection of University Boulevard and Stockton Street. As you enter campus, the building is on the right, just past the Media Center. There is a dedicated parking lot adjacent to the building. Payment for the Moody Lot is by credit card only. For campus maps, visit www.rice.edu/maps.

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

About FACE Foundation
FACE Foundation’s Étant Donnés is developed in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, with lead funding from the Florence Gould Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Chanel USA, the ADAGP, the French Ministry of Culture, and Institut Français.