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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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Njaimeh Njie

“Did you get everything?”

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: Projected photo collage, family audio recordings, music sample, vintage living room and kitchen furniture, aged wallpaper, vintage appliances, suitcases, hanging window screen panels

Entering into Njaimeh Njie’s installation is like walking into a memory. Easy family conversations fill and shape the space, and the voices fade and emerge as we move from living room, to kitchen, and back. Figures appear throughout the rooms, animating the otherwise darkened spaces. Here, Njie recreates a family home that has been lived in and loved for a long time, but the boxes, suitcases, and missing items against the aged wallpaper imply a move in progress.

Home can be a space where families gather, share stories, and fortify bonds. Home can also be a site of precarity, particularly for Black families in the face of displacement, gentrification, and intergenerational changes. Njie’s installation asks us to reflect on the nature and importance of family, memory, and tradition, but also asks us to ponder what we take with us when the time comes to leave home.

Artist Statement

I’ve lived in and been around homes where there was always food, laughter, and conversation when friends and family would gather. Those spaces ground me, they fill me up, and they make me feel connected to legacy and tradition beyond myself. Still, when I look around my hometown and so many other cities, I see the spaces that Black folks have called home systematically being altered and/or destroyed. I often ponder the interior life of these spaces–what they’ve seen and held. I chose to focus on the love and the joy in this installation, but by placing it in the context of memory, I’m interrogating why so many Black families don’t get to continue making home where they please. I hope to conjure a sense of home that feels good and familiar, and also hold space for the complex feelings that come with the precarity of home.

When

2021

Where

1414 Monterey, 2nd Floor

About The Artist

Njaimeh Njie is a photographer, filmmaker, and multimedia producer. Her practice centers everyday people, narratives, and landscapes, with a particular focus on how black people perceive themselves and their experiences in the places they call home.

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