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A sample of works in the new Mattress Factory show, Factory Installed 

One artist imagines new possibilities for a room, another makes the basement gallery more like itself.

click to enlarge Natalia Gonzalez at the Mattress Factory - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MATTRESS FACTORY
  • Photo courtesy of the Mattress Factory
  • Natalia Gonzalez at the Mattress Factory

You'd expect an exhibit of site-specific installation art by six international artists to showcase a variety of styles, and you'd be right. Consider Pablo Valbuena and Natalia Gonzalez, two of the artists chosen from among nearly 600 submissions for the Mattress Factory's Factory Installed by museum co-directors Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk and independent curator Katherine Talcott.

Valbuena, 33, a Spaniard based in France, has exhibited his projection-based installations from New York to Seoul. Valbuena uses architectural software and animated video projections to re-imagine existing built environments -- for instance, superimposing a new grid made of light onto an interior segment of an old building. The virtual grid slowly grows until the real space vanishes.

It's trippy, a trompe l'oeil. "All of my pieces try to get to a point where the space you generate mentally is different than the space you're in," he says. "You see things that aren't there … to make you see other possibilities of how this space could be configured."

His Mattress Factory work (still in progress at press time) will occupy an empty room painted white, its two big windows boarded over. Working with just a computer and a ceiling projector, his goal is "making people feel the transformation of the room."

Gonzalez, meanwhile, is working to make the museum's cavernous basement gallery more like itself. The space, perhaps the Mattress Factory's most distinctive, was her choice. "This will obligate me to work with space," says Gonzalez, 33. "There will be more challenges here, I thought."

She's using steel bars, wire cables and automated lighting units to create an environment of object and shadow -- one that's constantly changing, but will make visitors notice every rectangular hole in the stacked-stone wall and every mysterious groove in the concrete floor. "It emphasizes the idea of the passing of time," she says.

Gonzalez grew up in Bolivia and the United States, and recently completed graduate school at Baltimore's Maryland Institute College of Art. But she knows Pittsburgh: Her fiance, artist Philip Hessler, is from here. (Though, ironically, he's currently exhibiting in Bolivia's Bienal Internacional de Arte.)

Factory Installed also includes work by Brazilian artist Mariana Manhães; Ukrainian-born Nika Kupyrova; Burmese-born, Pittsburgh-based Than Htay Maung; and West Indian-born Veronica Ryan, now based in New York.

 

FACTORY INSTALLED opening reception: 7-9 p.m. Fri., Oct. 28. Exhibit continues through May. Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side. $10. 412-231-3169 or www.mattress.org

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