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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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Seamus Nolan

310-312 Sampsonia Way, For Sale by Owner, Great Opportunity


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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In this project, 310-312 Sampsonia Way, For Sale by Owner, Great Opportunity, Nolan presents images from a derelict house on Sampsonia Way. Nolan intervenes with the everyday process of selling a house, the notion of projected idealism into domestic spaces that we do not know but consume speculatively. Working within the space over a period of weeks, Nolan employed found and existing materials to finish certain elements and draw out architectural forms, making the material work differently within the space and drawing out a particular aesthetic.

The project is presented in the gallery in the form of a large-scale billboard with a selection of images and a computer displaying the house as is for sale on the website zillow.com. This aesthetic idealism is juxtaposed with subtle references to alternative histories of Pittsburgh; Andrew Carnegie and Rockefeller’s interest in Eugenics (the study of progressing human breeding), Anarchists' misadventure with explosives and mistaken blowing up of their next-door neighbor- a judge, and the ambition and formation of the Industrial Workers of the World (or Wobblies) union and its subsequent failure. This project seeks to consider how objects, such as a derelict house, operate within current ideologies. What role do we play in the speculation for the future of a neighborhood, a city, or a country? Is this speculation only economic or is there another form of social formation? If so, what is the alternative? In juxtaposing this projection of an ideal space or home with references from the past the tension between a certain idealism and the passage of other histories is drawn out and the premise of social, political, and economic cohesion is undermined and called into question.

Curated by Georgina Jackson


Neighbo(u)rhood: May 13 - September 11, 2011
About The Artist

Seamus Nolan’s practice investigates the relative value of objects and social processes as they appear within different economies and contexts. He strives to unravel the commonplace, to recognize the inherent structure or code from which we construct and de-construct the world around us. His work is concerned with assembling alternative power relations, energy, and possibility by reconfiguring the every day as a means to examine or question the purveyors of meaning. “It is necessary to speak about space and resources which surround us in order to develop new experiences for ourselves and our environment”. His work often operates in conjunction with local community groups and invites both a national and international audience to interact on a very personal level with this local activity, with the piece of work itself, and most importantly, with the context of its presentation.

More from this Artist

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Lost Tribes and Promised Lands

City Council Wrestling

Slightly Different

Squatter Sovereignty: The General Will


Five neighbors, Five countries

The Girl Chewing Gum

Squatter Sovereignty: Origami Fireworks

Squatter Sovereignty Parallax view: Brewhouse, Pittsburgh, City Garden, Dublin

Squatter Sovereignty: Radical Love


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