Currently Closed
Marvin Touré
the blood is the water.
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Catalina Schliebener Muñoz
Deep, Deep Woods
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Isla Hansen
How to Get to Make Believe
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Andrea Peña
States of Transmutation
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Asim Waqif
Assume the Risk
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After School

Teen Art Cooperative
Our Mission

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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Asim Waqif

Assume the Risk

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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Waqif invites viewers into a collaborative dynamic and playful installation that challenges our ideas on authorship and the preciousness of artwork, pushing against the formality we come to expect from typical museum experiences.

Museums are typically places of pristinely preserved objects. Secured behind glass and roped off from curious hands, the importance and value of a work is protected in climate-controlled rooms with the artist’s vision frozen in time for posterity. For Assume the Risk, Asim Waqif invites viewers into a collaborative dynamic and playful installation that challenges our ideas on authorship and the preciousness of artwork.

Frustrated by the distance between artwork and viewer, Waqif’s practice pushes against the formality we come to expect from typical museum experiences. Improvisation and play are central tenants and viewers often become participants in the meaning and the making of his projects. In Assume the Risk the artist has “started a game and asks the viewer to continue it in new directions.” Waqif has designed opportunities throughout the run of the exhibition for the public to participate, allowing them to freely compose and re-compose the installation.

The exhibition’s title is a reference to assumption of risk, a legal concept which involves a conscious and willing acceptance of risks that are inherent and integral to the activity (e.g., skydiving, skiing). For this work, Waqif asks viewers to do the same when entering the gallery, to understand that in order to fully experience the installation, one has to recognize that there are dangers inherent to participation. These risks are physical, such as tripping, as well as intangible, like the risk of failure that is inherent to all creative pursuits.

Ultimately, it is a dynamic, iterative, and playful work, that responds not only to the environment that it exists in, but also to the materials sourced. Items were gathered from a former flashlight factory, a local architectural salvage, and via a public open call through the Mattress Factory’s external communications channels. These items have been assembled in a sprawling sculptural composition. Microphones and speakers have been strategically placed throughout, so that the room itself hums and buzzes, activated and changed with the movements of each visitor.

Waqif was selected for exhibition by a panel of Mattress Factory alumni artists through International Open Call. Mattress Factory believes that alumni artists, those artists who have completed a residency and exhibition with us, know better than anyone what our resources and capacity can accomplish and how special our community is. The panel offers a perspective unlike any other, one that is deeply familiar with the museum, engaged in many aspects of the contemporary art field, and invested in pushing our exhibitions program in new directions.  The artist alumni panelists were Vanessa German, Sohrab Kashani, Christopher Meerdo and Sarah Oppenheimer.

Artist Statement

Asim Waqif’s recent projects have attempted to crossover between architecture, art and design, with a strong contextual reference to contemporary urban planning (or the lack thereof) and the politics of occupying, intervening in, and using public spaces. Some of his projects have developed within abandoned and derelict buildings in the city that act like hidden activity spaces for the marginalized.

Concerns of ecology and anthropology often weave through his work and he has done extensive research on vernacular systems of ecological management, especially with respect to water, waste and architecture. His artworks often employ manual processes that are deliberately painstaking and laborious while the products themselves are often temporary and sometimes even designed to decay.


June 30, 2023 - September 1, 2024


500 Sampsonia, 4th Floor


Portions contain uneven terrain

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

Asim Waqif (b.1978) studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. After initially working as an art director for film and television, he later started making independent video and documentaries before moving into a dedicated art practice. He has worked in sculpture, site-specific public installation, video, photography, and more recently with large-scale interactive installations that combine traditional and new media technologies. Waqif has held solo shows at Nature Morte, New Delhi and Galerie Templon, Paris in 2013, and the Palais Tokyo, Paris in 2012. Select Work includes: Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata (2019), Offsite at Vancouver Art Gallery (2017), 8th Asia-Pacific Triennial (2015); Pavillion de Debris at Marrakech Biennale (2014); Bordel Monstre (2012) at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Andekhi Jumna (2011); Residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, USA (2011).


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