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"A Woman's Work is Never Done: a house of curiosities"
2001-09-19 until 2001-10-14
Conway and Pratt Projects
Boston, MA, USA United States of America

Conway and Pratt Projects will present A Woman’s Work Is Never Done: a house of curiosities in a 10,000 square foot space at 71 Amory Street, continuing their series of large-scale, site-specific art projects that have a large community element. Often described as a funfair in the attic, long-time collaborators Merry Conway and Noni Pratt create sprawling walk-through environments that explore female identity and women’s roles, inviting hundreds of Boston residents to share some of the experience of their lives in public forum.

The work of Conway & Pratt Projects is presented free to the public. Last seen in the Boston area as part of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue in 1999 with a Small Museum of Women’s Experience in Chelsea, Conway & Pratt has continued their Boston relationship with this larger project. Reflecting the span of the project’s interests, The Bostonian Society, MIT Office of the Arts and The Women’s Educational and Industrial Union have joined hands with the artists to bring this work to Boston. A Woman’s Work involves a wide span of experience from hundreds of Boston citizens, creating a kind of public conversation through the viewing experience, bringing the arts into the public discussion of female identity and women’s roles.

Working for 15 years to develop a dense, layered style that is part performance-theater, part object-installation, the accessible projects of Conway & Pratt draw on ideas of memory, emotional history, remembrance, actual artifacts and words and active curiosity. Their work has been called a living museum in which the personal history and experience of the viewer is invited to interact with the vision of the artists. They focus on bringing to light aspects of life that are forgotten, undervalued or neglected. They are interested in reflecting American experience and have previously created projects in non-traditional spaces around the Northeast: New Bedford, MA, West Philadelphia, in an excerpted form at The Fitchburg Art Museum, as well as New York City, where they are based. Their next piece will take them all across America, exploring personal philosophies of life.

A Woman’s Work Is Never Done will explore aspects of female identity, with a broad range of women’s experience, exploring care-giving and care-taking, beauty and desire. The cast of 10 performers, to be found throughout the installation, will include 9 women and 1 musician. Viewers walk through the exhibit, and are encouraged to snoop -- to actively investigate the environment by opening doors, looking in drawers, and interacting with the material. This evokes a spectrum of thought and feeling about the current state of women’s roles in our society, the nature of traditional women’s work, and the needs and value of that work in new configurations today. Deeply collaborative, Conway & Pratt creates powerful bonds with hundreds of participants to create each piece -- bringing a wealth of personal experience and wisdom into a public sphere.

The work of Conway & Pratt defies simple definition. It is a hybrid form, …like an Alice in Wonderland inversion of reality… (Mel Gussow, New York Times) combining visual, theatrical, and museum elements, including their trademark Memory Museum, comprised of the excerpts of conversations with hundreds of local residents and loaned mementos from their lives. Scores of local community organizations serving women’s needs become involved. A whole community evolves during the 4 months of the project’s life: 2 months of construction, lots of interaction and participation, volunteering and sewing-bees, in the spirit of a barn raising. The project will take place on the main floor of 71 Amory Street. 59 – 71 Amory Street is home to a number of different artist and community organizations in the Jamaica Plain/Roxbury area. The space is not traditionally associated with art presentation but will play host to the work, bringing together a broad and diverse range of visitors throughout the development period. Conway and Pratt invite all interested to come down to the space to catch a glimpse of the work and involving a broad span of Boston citizens, even help-out during the process.

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