Project Description

Conway & Pratt Projects, Inc presented A WOMAN’S WORK IS NEVER DONE: a house of curiosities in association with The Bostonian Society, MIT Office of the Arts and The Women’s Educational and Industrial Union. It was presented free to the public for 5 weeks beginning September 12, 2001 five days a week. The project examined ways that female identity is constructed and the nature of women’s roles today through a wide spectrum of experience.

Merry Conway and Noni Pratt have collaborated for 15 years, creating large-scale arts projects that explore issues of social concern with powerful environments that evoke memory and illuminate undervalued aspects of people’s lives. They draw on visual arts, theatrical and museum traditions, using nine live performers, Super8 film and video, and interweave them with the rich variety of experience of local residents in their trademark “Memory Museums”. These museums consist of loaned mementos and poignant fragments from conversations with hundreds of participants. Visitors walk through the environment, actively investigating the material all around them.

The subtitle of this project, “a house of curiosities,” evokes the “cabinets of curiosities” found in Europe (as well as China) during the 17th to the 19th centuries. These consisted of the peepshows, “raree shows,” and magic boxes of popular entertainment; as well as the larger collections of “wonders” brought from the New World. The environment we create out of disparate fragments is similar to these cabinets -- we too provide a peek into a fully-dimensioned world that negotiates between public and private, directly addresses fragmentation and wholeness and calls for a more inclusive ordering of experience.