Thinking Spaces 2022: Catharine Cary

This Thinking Spaces session, with guest Catharine Cary, took place on February 25, 2022.

This presentation, entitled “The Upside Down Protocol,” saw multi-modal improvisational practitioner Catharine Cary consider the question: “How can we turn on its head everything we think we know, and provoke play by having a mind and body subtle and supple enough to always see the ‘upside down’ of things?”

Through her talk, Catherine aimed to “open the present,” activating a session of looking in at nonsensical ways to jump into the synaptic divide, falling off the liminal edge, dipping our toes into that indescribable soup, smelling the bigger body, eating into the space in between, or the void, or the now, or the moment. Watching and participating in this 90-minute zoooooom between word plays, drawing, mirroring, movement and improvisation, you may be inspired to reconsider the prism through which you look at yourself and this world.

After running big complicated urban development projects in New York City, including building a theatre for Disney, Catharine Cary gave up the American dream to paint in Paris. At the death of her partner, she transfigured her pain through dance, falling headfirst into improvisation. Catharine was born in New York City, yet has lived outside of the United States more that within its borders, moving across 48 countries across 6 continents. Four years ago, she abandoned her PhD at the royal college of Art in London in order to improvise her life. She become itinerant, depending on the generosity of friends. She is currently sheltered under a big rock that holds down the earth in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. She is co-founder of WHAT IIIF? festival that asks the absurd question, “Can improvisation be documented?” She animates a weekly improvisation practice via Zoom (here is one particularly good one). She also contributes a monthly “Letter to my Original Geography” for IICSI’s ImprovNotes. Trained as an economist and diplomat, her life has taken many turns, and it’s often better when she stands on her head. She writes a letter daily (you can read some here) and she is a contributor to the German still paper annual magazine Improfil, Critical Correspondence, and the Journal of Embodied Research. Her current Upside Downing puts into practice each and every counsel to end the hegemony of heteronormativity in our society (#juststop). You can learn more about Catharine here: