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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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Bob Karstadt

Raphael (a Healing Machine) or The Humming Bird Waltz

1994

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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A copper tripod construction made of feathers, wire, and other found objects rests on a circular bed of salt in the center of the first room. In an adjoining room, another copper tripod construction stands on a circular bed of salt. Six ovoid mirrors surround the structure at its base. The two constructions, which according to the artist both produce and absorb energy are made of materials traditionally regarded as having power: honey, salt, crystals, oil, and copper.

Instructions accompanying the first copper constructions direct the viewer to put on a headdress hanging on the wall and to remove a wand with a scoop on the end from the base of the structure. The viewer is then instructed to dip into one of three hanging containers remove salt, honey, or flour, and pour it on the growing material -- a sweet potato in a container resting on the bed of salt. The headdress includes orbs filled with honey; thus the person wearing it must look through the honey. The copper structure sits in a circle of rock salt, which turns the copper green. Crystals, placed at the center of glass disks, resemble radar dishes.

With a wand from the wall in the second room, the viewer may pick up a bit of oil at the base of the piece and pour it into a funnel. From there, the oil runs slowly along wires, after it drips, a viewer may use a blade of grass, dipped in the oil, to write his or her name. Barely visible marks on the window result from a drawing made of honey.

Artist Statement

Blue eye flame spins gold sound, speaks wind
Hummingbird wings kiss blue, dusting Y
Blue light drips to heart root swims sweet gold
Seraphim eyes
Ellu
Sifts
Speaks
Copper Cloud
Light
Sifts
Speaks
Ground
Reflect Jasper

Winged community fly sea gold orbs
Ear fixture light hold crystal song, vortex wings
Blue Horns Six Moons sing chest finger waltz
Root Center Triangle
Ashes spin fish
eternal
sifts
wheat
commune
House field seeds
Residue rests home shards
Eye root circle nurtures Book, journey nestled
on delta growth through Earth white
Spots Leave
Lungs sail clear
Further table spice lights song

Enoch's tree copper words speak, sings
Wave through heart root
Ice grow Lead Vortex
Salt Melts
Double Vortex waltz holds root fruit
Electricity
Home breathe through window, spoken name
Book ravels wax salt deluge
Spot leaves eye roots
Copper sun pierces Lead door
Dance Dessert yellow
Circle river
Crystal ocean
Two-ended flame clots wound
Sweet Enoch's light pierces jasper wall
Name skim light pound
Buoys light guides white ship
Sea both sides
Veil lifts
Ellu

Exhibition

Bob Karstadt: October 22, 1994 - February 26, 1995
About The Artist

Bob Karstadt received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York and his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He taught for a number of years in Pittsburgh and Kingston, PA and served as adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University and Youngstown State University. He currently teaches art at Squaw Valley Academy.

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