Neighbo(u)rhood is the title of the summer 2011 large group exhibition at the Mattress Factory. The exhibition includes events, installations and video-based works, which present differing points of departure and reflections upon the idea of neighborhood. The participating artists are Glenn Loughran, Ferhat Özgür, Seamus Nolan, Sarah Pierce/The Metropolitan Complex, Diane Samuels, John Smith, Elisabeth Subrin and Dawn Weleski. The title refers to a difference of translation but also an assertion of the role of oneself in the existence of neighborhood.
In the popular imagination the term neighborhood conjures up ideas of home, community and even common identity, but is this really so? How often do such images capture the complexity and conflictual nature of living together, of sharing space, of negotiating difference and of creating consensus? This exhibition re-considers neighborhood, the figure of the neighbor, and the deliberation of how we live together. Can the figure of the neighbor propose an alternative to the dichotomy of friend or enemy? Can the classical concept of neighborhood be used to reconsider social and political formation as complex and incomplete, universal and particular, representative and invisible.
During the late nineteenth century, Pittsburgh was a central destination for generations of immigrants who carved out a living while working in the steel mills, iron, glass, and other factories along the three famous rivers. The city, often called ‘The City of Immigrants’, offered the promise of economic prosperity in the land of the free and the land of opportunity. While this massive influx has not been repeated during the late twentieth or twenty-first centuries, neighborhoods such as Squirrel Hill and Polish Hill acknowledge the historical formations of communities to a site, city or nation according to ethnic, cultural and religious affinities.
Today in Pittsburgh, it is common for people to define their home not by city limits but by neighborhood boundaries. Thus the idea of neighborhood informs a sense of belonging, but an identity beyond that of the cultural, ethnic, religious or social. In this sense neighborhood operates as a space in which there is a juxtaposition of difference but also a potential for alternative forms of community not based on identity but on the common.
Neighbo(u)rhood reflects upon and open discussion on areas including the neighbor, participation, community, the common, democracy, socio-political shifts and immigration. The exhibition is presented both at The Mattress Factory Art Museum and in different sites in Pittsburgh. A related series of public talks and events will also take place throughout the exhibition period with their starting points being some of the exhibition's many underlying subjects.
--Georgina Jackson, Curator