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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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On View

Greer Lankton

It's All About ME, Not You

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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They're all freaks. Outsiders, untouchables. They’re like biographies, the kind of people you’d like to know about. - Greer Lankton

This work is temporarily inaccessible while we prepare for an upcoming exhibition and will be viewable again beginning May 17th. 

In Greer Lankton's (1958-1996) creations, one perceives an arresting blend of innocence and decadence, hope juxtaposed with profound pathos. Her assertion that her work was "all about me" becomes an invitation to understand her world, where, as a transgender individual and drug addict, she defied societal norms, questioning the boundaries of gender and sexuality. Through this immersive installation, visitors don't merely observe but engage with Lankton's raw and honest exploration of life. 

It’s All About ME, Not You is an intimate and unfiltered world, where her life and art are intertwined. Upon entry to the gallery, one is immediately presented with a recreation of Lankton's Chicago apartment as seen from outside—a painstakingly detailed room filled with poignant echoes of her life's tribulations and triumphs. Its walls, bathed in rich, evocative colors, serve as a canvas for stars, perhaps an ode to dreams and aspirations. The apartment is punctuated by her handmade dolls and figures, a testament to Lankton's artistry and her life's struggles: an anorexic doll laying on a cot, named More Morphine, is strewn with prescription pill bottles. Interspersed are personal shrines to iconic figures like Patti Smith and Candy Darling. An unmistakable reference, ruby slippers, sit beneath striped stockings, signifying a world where fantasy meets stark reality. 

Though Lankton's dolls have been shown widely as discrete objects, It's All About ME, Not You stands apart as her magnum opus, a large-scale installation that weaves her narrative in its entirety. Critic Holland Cotter aptly describes her work as the "art of a superbly disciplined and unusually distressing beauty." Sadly, Lankton's life was cut short soon after the exhibit's debut in 1996. This installation, once relegated to storage, now finds a long-term home at the Mattress Factory, along with the artist's archives, a testament to her enduring legacy. 

Artist Statement

I’ve been in therapy since 18 months old, started drugs at 12 was diagnosed as schizophrenic at 19, started hormones the week after I quit Thorazine got my dick inverted at 21, kicked Heroin 6 years ago. Have been Anorexic since 19 and plan to continue and you know what I say FUCK Recovery, FUCK PSYCHIATRY Fuck it all because I’m over it. Over the roof. I’m so sick I’m dead, so from now on I take no responsibility for my actions. Oh and I was fucked up the ass by my grandfather since age 5, been brutally raped twice and have had almost every major organ in my body fail at some point. Life support is no picnic for Rhoda so don’t EVEN take me there. By the way I’m an artist and Andy Warhol was the dullest person I ever met in my life. But he’s got a museum so what do I know. Hans Bellmer is my favorite artist.

Love always,
Greer

Artificial Nature
Total Indulgence
Dolls engrossed in glamour and self-abuse
The vanity
The junkie
The anorexic
The chronic masturbator
“It's all about ME”
Not you
Trapped in my own world in my
Head in my tiny tiny
apartment

When

Long-term

1996

Where

500 Sampsonia, 3rd Floor

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

Greer Lankton (1958 – 1996) was one of the most significant artists to have taken part in the revolutionary art scene of New York City’s East Village during the 1980s. Lanton grew up in Park Forest, IL, where she graduated a year early from high school to attend the Art Institute of Chicago from 1975 to1978. That year she moved to New York City and received her BFA from Pratt Institute in 1981. By then Lankton had secured her reputation as a leading figure in the social ferment of NYC in the 1980s through her visceral doll sculpture, and now lesser-known performances and minimalist soft sculpture. Lankton’s drawings are frequently compared to that of the expressionist Egon Schiele and her dolls and their photographic portraits, to that of surrealist Hans Bellmer. Yet her experimental and multimedia work are located within a history of transfeminism, avant-garde performance and even pop-art, while at the same time is equally situated within a neo-punk canon and the Trash Trilogy of John Waters films - Pink Flamingos being her favorite. Lankton’s exhibitions and performances included those at PS1, Club 57, Pyramid Club, Franklyn Furnace, Civilian Warfare Gallery, Hal Bromm and the Whitney Biennale, NYC. She also exhibited across the US and Europe, including the UK, Austria and the Venice Biennale, Italy. She exhibited her first full-scale installation artwork at the Mattress Factory Museum shortly before her untimely death in 1996.

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