Wednesday, May 19, 2010
from the archives ( "contemplation chair, mattress factory, pittsburgh, pa")
On Pittsburgh's Northside, there is a big old brick structure that once served as a mattress warehouse. The place was eventually converted into what is known today as The Mattress Factory - one of the world's premier installation art centers. At first glance you wouldn't know it was an art space, since most of the structure blends in well with much of the run-down architecture in the area. The Northside, and much of Pittsburgh itself seems to have gone to the dogs, however, there are diamonds in the rough, and much of it has to do with the arts, despite the 'burgh being a sports-obsessed town. One of my favorite things about the Mattress Factory is the surrounding exterior, which has an almost eerie resemblance to a post-nuclear fallout zone, after nature had begun to reclaim it's place once more. You can walk around and explore hidden spaces, and if you listen carefully you'll hear some beautiful noises emanating from a permanent sound sculpture installed in the "garden" by German sound artist Rolf Julius. In the photo above, I noticed a man who had been sitting for a long time, almost completely still, in the one chair sitting outside at the Mattress Factory. At first I thought he was a sculpture himself, then I thought it was a possible act of performance art. I don't recall ever sitting in the chair myself during my many visits to the Mattress Factory - it always seemed so fragile and kind of dirty. This didn't appear to have any effect on the man sitting quietly in the chair however, who appeared to be lost in a state of deep thought.