Prayer Project
by Daphne Wright

portrait of man meditating


  • 1Prayer Project at Quad, Derby, 2009
  • 2Prayer Project at Quad, Derby,2009
  • 3Production still: Jay-Lakhani shoot
  • 4Production still: Sister Frances shoot

Video still


Prayer Project is a multi-screen installation by Daphne Wright comprising of film portraits exploring the mystery of the intensely private and personal moment of prayer and meditation.

For this work, Wright was granted permission to visit individuals and film them in the act of prayer or meditation, the resulting documentation is presented as a series of filmic portraits. Tightly framed to emphasise the human subject over other content, each portrait is filmed in real time, with little variation in camera angle, post-production editing or subsequent shaping of material. The footage is presented without commentary and intervention on the part of the artist is kept to a minimum. In the history of art the portrait, perhaps above all others, is the genre where private and public collide at their most intense. Wright's portraits can be referred to as what Michael Fried has called the ‘absorptive current or tradition' of portraiture, in which the subject is lost in thought or absorbed in action; the subject is thus liable to reveal their true identity, their innermost thoughts.

The project explores the human presence in the process of the act of prayer and mediation; the relationship between visible and transcendent states and the connection an individual has with something ‘other'. At the heart of this work lies an exploration of the notion of communion, both in the sense of communion in terms of its religious connotations (a communion with God) but also in the old sense of the word as communication, community, or dialogue with the self or with an ‘other'. Watching Wright's Prayer Project, one is left with the thought that, perhaps there are moments that transcend through dis-connection, through infinitely mysterious gestures.



Year 2009
Duration Variable durations from 20 to 50 minutes
Medium Six screen projection
Original format DVCAM
Screening format MPEG-2 DVD
Aspect ratio Custom portrait aspect ratio
Audio Yes
Colour / B&W Colour
Screens 6

External links:


Co-commissioned by Picture This and QUAD, and produced by Picture This. Funded by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Culture Ireland.

Screening history:

26 June - 21 July 2010
Enniskillen - Castle Museum, Higher Bridges Gallery and Imperial Buildings

QUAD, Derby, UK
09 May - 28 June 2009

Related Items:

Daphne Wright

Daphne Wright's practice has been largely sculpture and photography based before working with Picture This to develop and produce a film project.

Introspection Interrupted

In this essay curator Frances Loffler explores the relationship between private and public space in portraiture.

Prayer Project

In this commissioned essay Shirley MacWilliam looks at how prayer is presented in Daphne Wrights video installation.