Conway & Pratt Projects creates large-scale theatrical environments. Each project provides a huge space -- both literal and metaphorical -- for the audience to walk though -- exploring overlapping and contrasting fragments of experience that illuminate aspects of important social themes. Its something like walking through a funfair held in the attic. Shards of various kinds are all brought together, and often, presented simultaneously: bits of daily life and images using elements from visual art, performance and museum traditions.
There are displays of actual objects borrowed from hundreds of peoples lives, their words and gestural fragments interwoven with performance; video; live musicians; Super-8 film; taped soundscape; assemblage and installation. Housed in non-traditional spaces, in heavily-trafficked pedestrian areas, a wide range of visitors are brought together in the space, to reflect upon their own lives in relation to issues of the day, and to marvel at the richness and variety of human experience. Our projects are always presented free to the public.
Visitors are invited to explore the environment pretty much in their own time, and to follow their own curiosity. It is an unusual event, and a bit disorienting, The audience travels between their private and public selves. They move from worlds of artifacts to worlds of metaphor, from the everyday to the archetypal. They experience shifts of scale, encouraging the release of fixed ideas, just as the Wonderland experience discombobulated Alice. In our environments, however, there are guides that offer assistance, live music, and a warm inviting ambiance. To make sure that the strong visceral and emotional current is uninterrupted, we resist using any formal aesthetic technique that might create a distance from the viewers immediate connection to the content of the work.
Our projects invite the viewers to remember themselves -- rather than to lose themselves -- in the event. Audiences are invited to contribute their written experiences as they walk through the environment, and they often interact with each other as they examine various displays. Conway & Pratt projects have explored: death, grief, forbidden figures of the feminine, social valuation of the elderly, complex relationships between daughters and fathers, and fundamental aspects of women1s lives. Conway & Pratt is dedicated to finding shape for experience not represented in colloquial discourse -- experience that is undervalued, communicated between the cracks of language, denied, or taught in the encoded gestures of daily life.
It is often not official experience and memories which contain the fodder for adding depth and breadth to understanding. In the experience of our projects, viewers gain access to parts of themselves that may have been forgotten to them, or not available to them through social discourse, or issue-based examinations of the projects themes. At the same time, the project exposes them to other people1s experience, which may be quite different from their own. Peoples experience is constantly one of moving through complicated and contrasting material, but there is a general trend towards interpreting that experience in narrower forms: soundbites of information, specialized and compartmentalized knowledge etc.
One educator told us for example, that his most recent students show a marked decrease in their ability to understand metaphor, so that they find it hard to compare and put together two disparate pieces of information to create a third. We, as a society, are given fewer opportunities to think about things in a complex way, and are often left without the practice or tools to interpret the experience of our public and private lives. The purpose of Conway & Pratts projects are to enlarge the visitors flexibility of thought/feeling -- through reflection, memory, sensual stimuli, feeling, opinion, and judgment. This flexibility is crucial for us as a society to enlarge our ability to grasp and to negotiate our way through the complicated issues of our times. Read our mission.