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Marvin Touré
,
the blood is the water.
View Exhibition
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The Mattress Factory is an artist-centered museum, international residency program and renowned producer and presenter of installation art. We say “yes” to artists, offering time and space to dream and realize projects in our hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. We invite audiences from around the world and around the corner to step inside, immerse and connect with the artistic process.

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On View

Marvin Touré

the blood is the water.

This play is a reflection on the (im)possibility of accepting diversity and the other. The fragmented body of the neoplasm—the fruit of unstable conditions—overcomes barriers, loves and denies itself and others, wanders around, forgetting its profession. It frequently and with pleasure divides, goes through dangerous palpation, questions the possibility of contact with the experience of the other. Poorly brought up but very successful, it invites us to a trans-species transition.

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For Marvin Touré (he/him), familial stories and experiences often inform what he makes in the studio. Touré crafts memory through abstraction: primarily mark making, anthropomorphic objects, and installations. The works visually impart the nonlinear, fragmented ways in which recounting family history is passed down through oral traditions. Aesthetic characteristics in the artist’s work include opacity, a fluidity between abstraction and figuration, stylistic references to design, and a southern gothic sensibility. Furthermore, with a background in architecture, Touré often considers the body’s relationship to space in his work.

The materials used to create the immersive environment titled the blood is the water play an important role in the artist’s storytelling. The red walls represent the Georgia clay where he spent his childhood. References to land and landscapes is another motif which appears throughout his body of work. He also applied paint and soil from Georgia to the sculptures throughout the installation. Additionally, he employed a dripping technique to add resin to the gallery to evoke water. Water represents an important ontological symbol in African American culture and across the diaspora. In both historical and in contemporary contexts, rituals and mythologies, references to water appear across genres including Black music, literature, films, the history of capitalism and forced labor, migration, and the environmental issues that disproportionately impact Black peoples and communities around the world. With Handrail (1993), a work from the museum’s long-term collection, the theme of water underscores a poignant metaphor for the Black diasporic experience as well as Touré’s personal history. Handrail is a waterfall that is integrated into the bannister located in the transitory space of a stairwell between the second and third floors. It provides a multi-sensory experience as visitors ascend/descend to/from Touré’s exhibition on the top floor. By incorporating Handrail with intention into the concept for the blood is the water., Touré offers viewers another meaning for consideration and reflection.

Text by Monique Long

Touré was selected for exhibition by Guest Curator, Monique Long, a New York City-based contemporary art curator and writer through Mattress Factory's annual Regional Open Call. This program is an ongoing effort to amplify the voices and profiles of artists from in and around Pittsburgh by connecting creatives in our community with curators, artists, institutions, and scholars throughout the world. 

Artist Statement

Marvin Touré  is an Ivorian-American  artist whose interests in familial and cultural storytelling guide his interdisciplinary practice. Touré engages with mythology and the objects of innocence as vehicles to investigate themes of memory and constructed histories. In, the blood is the water. Touré says; “I grew up hearing stories of mythical creatures, spirits, and the magic of West Africa and the American South. Although familial mythologies carried similar themes, they were particularly potent. They simultaneous carried an ability to root me in the historical and connect me to the fantastical.” Touré’s exhibition reinterprets systems of pipes, imperfect vessels, and material studies as a metaphor for lineage  and legacy. Touré concludes; “The blood is the water that connects us. An eternal river through space and time. In this new world we build systems. Pathways to animate what we craft here with what was bequeathed, the resonance of an embodied vessel. It’s in us, not on us.”

When

March 9, 2024 - March 30, 2025

Where

1414 Monterey, 3rd Floor

About The Artist

Marvin Touré is an Ivorian-American interdisciplinary artist who uses fictional narratives and the objects of innocence as a vehicle to interrogate themes of love, loss, and memory. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at The AC Institute in NYC (2018), and Haul gallery in Brooklyn (2021). In 2020 he was awarded both a Black Artist Fund grant and the Peter S. Reed Foundation grant for Mixed Media/Sculpture. Marvin was also awarded one of two 20th anniversary commissions for the I-Park Foundation’s 2021 Site-Responsive Art Biennale. Marvin joined Protohaven (Wilkinsburg, PA) and the University of Pittsburgh's Architectural Studies program in the fall of 2022 as a Teaching Fellow and Architecture Instructor, respectively.

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