Acclaimed artists, authors taking over Rice for Night of Philosophy and Ideas

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


Katharine Shilcutt

Acclaimed artists, authors taking over Rice for Night of Philosophy and Ideas
All-night event will transform the Moody Center for the Arts Jan. 26

HOUSTON — (Jan. 11, 2018) — A six-hour marathon of multimedia experiences, musical performances, movie screenings and more will transform Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts into an all-night salon teeming with creative energy.

A Night of Philosophy and IdeasA Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2019, presented Jan. 26 by the Moody Center and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, will bring together philosophers, musicians, artists and authors from around the world for a series of conversations and performances from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. 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 Rice professor and philosopher 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.”

Rice professor and philosopher Timothy Morton

Rice professor and philosopher Timothy Morton

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. This year it will take place in over 100 cities and 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.

Multi-media artist and performer Laurie Anderson

Multi-media artist and performer Laurie Anderson

Dale Jamieson, author and professor of environmental studies and philosophy at New York University, will give a talk inspired by The Beatles song: “(Almost) All You Need is Love.” NASA oceanographer Josh Willis will perform as Climate Elvis. Renowned artist Jae Rhim Lee will demonstrate the benefits of committing our bodies to a greener Earth through her special burial suit seeded with mushrooms, made famous in a 2011 TEDGlobal talk. Open Dance Project will perform in the galleries periodically throughout the night.

“On Jan. 26, the Moody Center for the Arts will come alive with philosophical debate, music, dance, art, film screenings, readings and much more,” said Alison Weaver, the Suzanne Deal Booth Executive Director of the Moody Center.

“We will open our doors to Houston at 7 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,” Weaver said.

“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 more,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the United States.

Artist Michel Blazy

Artist Michel Blazy

“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 Jan. 27,” de Montlaur said.

Participants will also enjoy musical performances, film screenings and interactive performance artworks. Visitors can immerse themselves in a virtual reality experience through the 360° film “Planet ∞” by the Japanese 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 French artist Michel Blazy, will be on view in the Moody’s Brown Foundation Gallery. 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.

Rice professor and artist Natasha Bowdoin

Rice professor and artist Natasha Bowdoin

Houston-based artist and Rice assistant professor Natasha Bowdoin has been commissioned by the Moody Center to create a site-specific work titled “Sideways to the Sun” that will fill the Central Gallery. Known for her collages 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.

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 acclaimed documentary film “Living in the Future’s Past” and French documentary “Tomorrow.”

Living in the Future's PastLiving in the Future’s Past,” created by Susan Kucera and narrated by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges asks the question, “What kind of future would you like to see?” It presents 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. Champagne and macarons by FLO Paris will be served at midnight.

A full list of events may be found at: For a Rice University map and parking information, visit


For more information, contact Katharine Shilcutt, media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6760 or

This news release can be found online at

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related information:

Moody Center for the Arts:

A Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2019:

High-resolution images for download:

Rice professor Timothy Morton

Rice professor Timothy Morton (Credit: Emilija Skarnulyte):×933-2icmc5w.jpg

Rice professor and artist Natasha BowdoinRice professor Natasha Bowdoin (Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University):

Open Dance ProjectAnnie Arnoult’s Open Dance Project will perform throughout the evening (Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University):

Living in the Future's PastLiving in the Future’s Past:

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 3,970 undergraduates and 2,934 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 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. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to


About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.