Mattress Factory Installations Look at Process, Collaboration

By Shaw, Kurt | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Mattress Factory Installations Look at Process, Collaboration


Shaw, Kurt, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Perhaps it's a side effect of having rational thought, but the cube has held a fascination for humans throughout history. The 20th century, particularly, was affected. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque began their avant-garde Cubist collaboration in 1907. Sixty years later, in 1967, "Action Office II," invented by Robert Propst, was released by Herman Miller Inc. It is credited as being the first office cubicle. And in 1980, the Rubik's Cube, invented by Erno Rubik in 1974, came to Western markets and was an immediate hit.

So it is that Chris Craychee's installation, "X3: Cubic Influence on Western Culture and the Collective Unconscious, 1637-1995," on display at the Mattress Factory, is a representation of the cubic influence by way of the burned portraiture of six men -- Pierre de Fermat, Andrew Wiles, Robert Propst, Erno Rubik, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque -- each etched in flame into a massive, carpet- covered version of a Rubik's Cube.

From mathematicians to artists, all have had a love affair with the cube. And now it's Craychee's turn with this delightful installation that combines portraiture and sculpture in a homage to mathematics and invention. It's just one of nine works by a dozen artists in "Gestures 15," the latest of the Gestures series of small, site-specific installations to open at the Mattress Factory's Annex Gallery on Monterey Street.

Independent curator Katherine Talcott, who organized this exhibit, says that this particular iteration of Gestures is about "process and collaboration."

Perhaps, other installation piece epitomizes those concepts combined more than "Hot Spots: What Comes After Oil?" by Ann Rosenthal, Wendy Osher, Karin Bergdolt and Elizabeth Monoian.

A collaborative piece that questions the ongoing use, and misuse, of our natural resources, it is basically a large-scale natural- history diorama that features an all-too-convincing foreground of a litter-strewn forest, behind which is an alternating background video featuring everything from a lush local landscape to a barren desert.

Although Rosenthal and Osher are locals, Bergdolt and Monoian are far flung: The former living in Germany and the latter in Dubai -- which goes a long way in explaining why, if you watch the background change long enough, you will see a camel crossing a desert. But more disconcerting is the garbage-strewn foreground, in which the artists have successfully combined nature with detritus in an effort to have the visitor consider the present moment where past and future converge and the possibility to change course to conserve our natural resources and preserve what we have for the future. …

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Mattress Factory Installations Look at Process, Collaboration
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