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Isla Hansen
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Andrea Peña
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Asim Waqif
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Shohei Katayama
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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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Ben Schachter

The Residents of Chelm Visit the Mexican War Streets

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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Curated by Katherine Talcott

Artist Statement

The Residents of Chelm Visit the Mexican War Streets takes its name from the town in Jewish folklore and the neighborhood in which the Mattress Factory is located. The residents of Chelm are fools whose misadventures are humorous and fool-hardy but not always good-natured. This installation imagines not so much what might happen if they came to Pittsburgh, but rather the title calls to mind mistranslation. The work is also an expansion of my paintings and drawings of eruv maps. An eruv is a symbolic boundary created around some Jewish neighborhoods. The laws that one must follow to construct an eruv are incredibly complex and ultimately create one continuous line around the neighborhood. The cityscape seen here is also drawn with one continuous, unbroken line of wire and marker.



About The Artist

Ben Schachter brings together Jewish law and contemporary art. Each painting, drawing, or installation uses particular traditions and laws as guidelines for the creation of the piece in the same way as conceptual artists created rules to determine the form of their work. He has exhibited at the Jewish Museum, CoCA Seattle, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and throughout the country. Recently he was artist-in-residence for the American Jewish Museum in Pittsburgh. Last year he delivered a paper entitled, “Talmudic Law as Conceptual Art” at the Conney Conference on Jewish Art in Madison, WI. He is working on a new project involving Jewish attitudes towards materials. He has also been featured by Zeek magazine and reviewed by The New York TimesPittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Ben is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

Curated by Katherine Talcott


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