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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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Edie Tsong

Endless Self-Portrait / Portrait of an Audience


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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As visitors enter the museum’s 3rd floor, they encounter a plasticine figurative sculpture of Tsong approximately 8-months into her first pregnancy. Exiting the elevator, visitors may at first be unable to identify that the representation is in fact a pregnant female as it is oriented toward a window with her back to approaching viewers. However, the artist encourages viewers to make changes through their interactions with the sculpture. Video and sound components complete the installation.

Artist Statement

The sculpture explores physicality and touch as a form of communication, as we have almost literally "lost touch" with each other despite technologies that "bring us closer together." It explores identity as a group project - how we are indelibly changed by our contact and interactions with others. As Americans, we are so focused on our own will as the making of our identity, but when I videotaped myself and saw myself as an Asian female, I realized that it didn't matter who I wanted to be. A large part of my identity was based on the projections of others. Identity is something that is constantly mutating with one's interactions with people, the environment and society. The sculpture becomes a document of people's physical interactions. Being pregnant has emphasized this because I am changing day by day and I am forced to recognize my biology and physicality of being human. This piece is really about touch as a vital and lost form of communication, which is something that builds our identities. The video makes a parallel between exploring the most deeply personal and the universal, and these two distant spheres as one and the same.


Messages & Communications: October 2, 2005 – April 2, 2006
About The Artist

Edie Tsong is a visual artist, writer, and archivist. She is the Founding Director of Cut + Paste Society, a community of women writers and artists in the Santa Fe area, and the Founding Director of their project Snow Poems Project. Tsong is on the board of New Mexico Literary Arts and Herekeke Art Center and lives and works in Santa Fe, NM with her daughter.

Tsong’s projects explore identity as a practice of intimacy. She performs interdisciplinary investigations through material, process, craft, language, and technology to take the form of conceptual portraits, socially engaged projects, writing, and radical bookmaking. They range in scale from small performances and objects to city-wide installations, cultural programming, and facilitated conversations.

She has exhibited her work throughout the United States and abroad including, the Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, MN; Field Gallery, Portland, OR; University of Rochester, Rochester, NY; Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque, NM; Finish Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, Finland, and many more.

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Give artists the time, space and resources to create remarkable works of art that help us see our world in new ways.

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