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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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Lisa Sigal

Break It Down

2015

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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Artist Statement

Break It Down is an exploration of drywall, which is also known as plasterboard, wallboard, or gypsum board. Drywall is one of the most commonplace building materials throughout North America. I have used it to make forms that have combined painting, building materials, and architecture as a way to examine illusion as a counterpoint to permanent and impermanent structures in urban space. I have a love/hate relationship with the materials. I am attracted to the sensual compressed surface and how easy it is to reconfigure, but dislike that it is impossibly heavy and fragile as an art material - easily scuffed, nicked, and damaged with use.

For the exhibition at the Mattress Factory, I have produced hand-made wall sections that possess the characteristics and appearance of drywall. I made them by sandwiching a core of plaster between sheets of heavy and translucent paper to mimic the standardized fabrication of drywall. The inconsistencies in their form function as a glitch in the installation, interjecting irregular planes that undo the monotonous manufacture of the walls. The development of this body of work follows other projects of mind that dismantle or demarcate walls as a way of altering and questioning practices for sheltering and housing people. This new direction in my work has the potential to build visible history, one hand-made section at a time.

The walls of the Mattress Factory are perpetually built and unbuilt by artists, which effectively records the passage of time in the institution. Walls also buy time. In its natural state, the materials in a wallboard panel contain the water of crystallization bound in the form of hydrates. When exposed to heat or fire this water is vaporized, retarding heat transfer until the water in the gypsum is gone. Each layer of 5/8-inch thick drywall represents an additional hour of time preserved during a fire. Layered walls in Break It Down experiment with practical and experimental sensations of time and place. Painterly incidences of color, density, and luminosity alter the physical nature of the wall sections. The silkscreened images, one of a construction site and the other shadows in a room are interspersed with the abstract sections. The repeating images seem to both capture time frame-by-frame and negate the preciousness of the image and the material. Taken together the works investigate how art can challenge set ideas about property, structure, and containment.

Exhibition

Factory Installed: September 18, 2015 - August 14, 2016
About The Artist

Lisa Sigal creates work that delineates the interiors and exteriors found in social spaces by expanding painting beyond the canvas to include walls and architectural forms.  She received an MFA from Yale and has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions throughout the US and the world, including the 2014 International Biennial in New Orleans.  She has won many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and participated in several artist residencies.

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