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Honors thesis explores ‘Dreamlife’

Photo: Honors thesis explores ‘Dreamlife’ (Melissa Key)
----- performs in Peter Pendergrass's senior thesis on Friday entitled dreamlife. The projects was an installation, environment, and experiment in which the audience were participants in the actors' dream world, encouraged to write their own dream story on the walls with chalk, tell one of their most memorable dreams, or just be silent and enjoy.

Art galleries aren’t often thought of as outlets for an honors thesis.

But Peter Pendergrass, a senior double majoring in performance studies and studio art, is presenting his at the Student Artery.

The installation and performance — called “Dreamlife” — intertwines dream with reality by exploring the experience of dreaming.

“The piece is about dreaming, but it does not deal with dreams in the sense of interpreting them in order to glean some sort of meaning,” Pendergrass said in an e-mail. “This work is about the experience of dreaming.”

“Dreamlife” combines sculpture, audio, video and performance in an intimate and immersive environment. It is a largely interactive piece in which Pendergrass and his drama group, the Performance Collective, interact with each other and the created space.

“I really hope people spend time in the space,” said Lori Baldwin, a performer in “Dreamlife.”

“In an instillation it’s easy go walk in and walk out. Letting yourself experience and be a part of the duration I think will be really exciting — you can just sit there and be an active member of what is going on.”

As an honors thesis project, the piece developed largely within the guidelines for thesis work. But the performance aspect of “Dreamlife” came together more freely.

“It is very much going to be an open process. We have created a sort of performance vocabulary, but it will definitely open to spontaneity,” Baldwin said.

“Peter has not put much pressure on us as performers and has wanted it to be really organic.”

As a final culmination of Pendergrass’ studies at UNC, “Dreamlife” feels climactic, partly because of its size. “This is by far the largest art project I have ever undertaken,” Pendergrass said. “Anyone who has visited the Artery over the course of the past year will definitely notice some major architectural modifications.”

Juliet Sperling, co-director of the Artery, said Pendergrass’ project is unlike any the space has seen.

“He transformed a grungy auditorium space into a really polished black box theater.”

Baldwin said that the space is very telling of Pendergrass’ artistic process.

“He’s put a lot of himself into this project — he’s created something really amazing.”

Pendergrass said his goals for “Dreamlife” are vast. The exhibition could make people conscious of what happens when they’re asleep, or be a good story for a dinner party, he said.

“I would be very pleased if every person took away a piece of someone else, whether consciously or not.”

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