The Mattress Factory presents three new distinct exhibitions in the Museum’s Monterey Annex from artists Lenka Clayton & Phillip Andrew Lewis, Lydia Rosenberg, and Katie Bullock.
These four artists – whose works form a cohesive yet unintentional connection – were selected by 2021 Regional Open Call Visiting Curator Denise Markonish, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA.
Over the duration of collaborative duo Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis’s The Museum Collects Itself, the trash generated by the normal operations of the Mattress Factory Museum will be redirected – stored, catalogued and displayed within the Monterey Annex Gallery – instead of being thrown away. The gallery will begin as a blank white space and will slowly fill up with the discarded materials of all aspects of institutional activities, which may include production waste from art installations, administrative office debris, deinstalled artworks, educational workshop materials, museum visitor detritus, obsolete office technology, among other things.
By collecting 10-months of trash with involvement from the entire staff of the museum, Clayton and Lewis make cultural waste evident while aestheticizing the discarded – sorting, baling, and piling into the gallery, as visitors traverse the material via diminishing pathways. After dunes of garbage and rubbish pile up to manifest in a behind the scenes “self-portrait” of the museum’s functionality, the gallery ends as it started: empty.
In Do this while I wait, Lydia Rosenberg presents a series of sculptures initially described in her ongoing project of writing a novel-as-sculpture. The project concentrates on the character of Annette, an artist who spends as much time making objects as she does listening to guided meditations, that in turn creates a narrative in which domestic cleaning objects are the key to decluttering her mental landscape.
At the Mattress Factory, Rosenberg exhibits the objects that fictional Annette has been making. The objects are hybrids, much like Annette: shredded books or cast crow’s feet become broom bristles, a lamp becomes formless, a pillowcase becomes a bucket, and ceramic spaghetti turns into a mop. These transmutations get at the heart of how we tend to care for objects rather than ourselves or other humans and how this is further complicated when the imaginary becomes material and vice versa.
For As Seen From the Surface, Katie Bullock brings her ongoing archive to life – projecting small videos interspersed with diagrammatic drawings brought from books and her videos/photographs, all in a geometric pattern. These galleries function as both observatory and library, offering the opportunity for Bullock to tell us her stories and to merge the personal with the universal.
Together the elements form a new cabinet of curiosities for the infinitesimal. There is symmetry in seeing the videos and drawings together as they tell a story of experience followed by the sometimes fruitless need to understand what just occurred. The shimmering graphite of the drawings catch the light, while the vellum’s transparency and buoyancy allow them to flutter as we pass by. This collection will grow throughout the life of the show to include experiences from Bullock’s time living in Pittsburgh.
The exhibitions will be on view through December 30, 2023.