Just back from 4 days in Pittsburgh. AKA The Burgh. It’s my favorite misunderstood city. And one that offers a full complement of visual language experiences.

The Mattress Factory Art Museum

The Mattress Factory has been exhibiting experimental/installation art for 30 years and boasts 3 permanently installed James Turrells, a Yayoi Kusama, among others. A current exhibit, Ships, Chips and the Stack of Documents, 2006, by Jesse Bercowetz and Matt Bua, offers up a provocation on the topics of conspiracy, disinformation, madness and extra terrestrial/other dimensional realities. Based on the ever evocative legend (Urban myth? Conspiratorial hogwash? Who knows?) of the USS Eldridge and infamous Philadelphia Experiment, the exhibit sucks you in, throwing out the bait and reeling you into its visually compelling tangle of crazy complexity, mystery and wacky lunacy. Much the way conspiracies take over the mind. (Google any of these topics and you just won’t believe the flotsam that will land on your beach.)

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The ship’s hull emerging from the 4th floor is a nice touch.

Another exhibit, by Dan Steinhilber, is a meditation on a tarp. Tarpness. A large room has been filled with one, and by using garage opener technology and wind machines, a single sheet of dulled plastic is transformed into an ocean in full wave form to the discarded skin of snake to an undulating field of wheat. It is mesmerizing and quite beautiful.

As Steinhilber notes:

Tarps have different associations for different people. It is the protective skin you cover things with when you want to keep natural elements out. You don’t want time to spoil, wreck, or rust. A tarp is used to avoid change. In this sculpture the tarp becomes change, mobile, and restless in space and time.

And always a delight to revisit: House Poem by Huang Xiang, on the street behind the museum. (To read more about Huang Xiang who some call the “Walt Whitman of China,” go the The Poetry Foundation as well as many other websites.)

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