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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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Akwasi Bediako Afrane

D²NA - TC24: Visions of the Past

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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Materials: Home appliances, electronics, electrical cables, plexiglass, VR headsets, model trains

Growing up in Kumasi, Ghana, Akwasi Bediako Afrane was a mischievous child. While taking apart his father’s old televisions, stereos, and VCRs, and collecting discarded electronics around his neighborhood, Afrane grew fascinated by the complexity and seemingly magical potential of these increasingly common technological objects. Together with his friends, he would build new creations from these components, fashioning imaginative devices with the bits and pieces they collected. It is with this spirit of exploration and play that Afrane continues today in his latest site-specific installation, D²NA - TC24: Visions of the Past 

Set amidst a darkened gallery, D²NA - TC24: Visions of the Past forms a cityscape of carefully arranged electronics. Old printers, computers, and stereos have been meticulously deconstructed, their insides pulled apart, housing removed and reconfigured into something familiar yet otherworldly. Computer screens, small LEDs, motors, and a working model train reanimate this scene, bringing to life objects once destined for the landfill. By working intuitively with salvaged materials, Afrane has created a small yet buzzing metropolis, one that feels simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic.    

It is here where the tension of Afrane’s work lies. Stuck between the past and the future, we float between our desire for these devices and the speed and thoughtlessness in which we discard them. Seeing old electronics piled high, it is easy to connect the effects of mass consumerism to the resulting climate catastrophe where we now find ourselves. Likewise, when considering the devastating environmental and human impact of mineral extraction across the African continent – and specifically in Afrane’s home country of Ghana, the world’s sixth largest producer of gold – the work can be considered as a critique of a perpetually exploitative economic system.  

Despite the conflicted and troubling realities highlighted by the installation, Afrane also celebrates the immense potential, possibility, and beauty inherent in new technologies. The installation radiates a sense of wonder and playfulness, engaging visitors through interactive elements such as working arcade consoles and VR headsets. Afrane invites us to interact with the installation physically, encouraging a deeper curiosity about the devices we frequently take for granted. He challenges us to consider how these items are made and their significance in our daily lives, fostering a critical reflection on the broader impacts of technology. 

 

When

May 18, 2024 - June 29, 2025

Where

500 Sampsonia, 3rd Floor

About The Artist

Akwasi Bediako Afrane (b. 1990) is a Ghanaian artist living and working in Kumasi, Ghana. His works explore the idea of augmentation and extensions between technological gadgets and humans. He works with discarded electronic gadgets which he refers to as “amputees”. He refashions and repurposes these amputees into machines and micro-organisms he describes as “TRONS”. These TRONS become potential platforms and media for reflection, engagement and interactions. His TRONS, stripped bare of their familiar housing become mechanical gizmos subsumed with the consciousness of previous owners of these gadgets and himself.

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