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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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Shohei Katayama

As Below, So Above

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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Equal parts architectural intervention, minimalist earthwork, and meditative environment, the installation encourages reflection on the invisible forces that bind us together.

As Below, So Above invites viewers to challenge their perceived reality and consider their place in a complex and ever-changing world. The exhibition draws inspiration from the ancient Hermetic phrase, “As Above, So Below” and explores the interplay and interconnectedness of ‘all things’ through a dynamic work spanning two levels of the Mattress Factory’s original warehouse building.

Throughout the museum’s lobby, seventeen wooden floorboards have been selectively and precisely removed. In their place, transparent panels fill the voids, allowing light from the first floor to enter the underground gallery below. As visitors traverse the lobby, their movements unknowingly influence the light shining into the darkened basement. Simultaneously, via motion and sound sensors, visitors navigating the lower-level gallery will activate the lobby space above with subtle sounds and movements. In doing so, the spaces become intertwined, highlighting the relationship between these separate rooms, and blurring the boundaries between observer and observed.

Equal parts architectural intervention, minimalist earthwork, and meditative environment, the installation encourages reflection on the invisible forces that bind us together. Using light, sound, and sculpture, Katayama seeks to foster an awareness of the far-reaching consequences of our actions on others, while at the same time, create moments of awe and curiosity. Katayama’s work asks us to embrace the unknown and unpredictable on a scale that’s both micro and macro. As Below, So Above, is a reminder of the intricate web of relationships that shape our existence and highlights the responsibility we bear in cultivating a collective future.

Artist Statement

My practice centers on creating experiences that shift our perception of the world and ourselves. Through a myriad of sensory inputs, I aim to rekindle curiosity and empathy in an increasingly desensitized society. Drawing inspiration from traditional art models, I explore the connections between nature, technology, and the scientific forces that shape human experiences and interactions. I am interested in the fields of physics, sustainability, and sociology, and my artwork reflects my personal and cultural histories.
 
In my investigation of the exchanges between implicit micro-structures and explicit macro-structures, I examine how these interactions affect systems that are often imperceptible due to their dynamic and mutable nature. My current and ongoing works strive to uncover underlying patterns and phenomena, demonstrating the entanglements between these systems and the ways they can be disrupted by human interaction.
 
By unveiling the consequences of these systems and their role in shaping our world, I aspire to impart a sense of gestalt—an understanding that the world is an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts and, in fact, is dependent on all of those parts. I hope this comprehension may link us to the necessity of embracing community and building cohesion.

When

April 29, 2023 – May 19, 2024

Where

500 Sampsonia, Lower Level

ACCEssibility

Low light levels

Image by Tom Little, courtesy of Mattress Factory
About The Artist

Shohei Katayama received his MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. He explores the connection between nature, technology, and the scientific forces that shape human experiences and interactions. His work embraces principles of order and chaos to generate meditative spaces through movement and sound. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy. He received the Outstanding Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award by the International Sculpture Center, among other awards. Currently residing in Louisville, KY, he serves as an assistant professor of studio art at the Kentucky College of Art + Design and as the director of Carbon Copy Gallery in Louisville.

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