James Turrell’s Quaker credo to “experience the light” and Yayoi Kusama’s directive to experience infinity inspired the selection of artists for Inner and Outer Space. The permanent installations at the Mattress Factory by Turrell and Kusama are touchstones.
In creating Danae (1983), Turrell put light on the other side of the aperture for the first time, claiming a desire to balance the light on the outside with the light on the inside. In Pleiades (1983), the “realm of night vision touches the realm of eyes-closed vision... where the seeing that comes from ‘out there’ merges with the seeing that comes from ‘in here.’” (from http://www.mattress.org)
In Kusama’s Infinity Dots Mirrored Room and Repetitive Vision (1996), the artist explores the obliteration of the self in the realm of infinity, using mirrors and lighting. Viewers become part of the work, assimilated into never-ending space.
Inner and Outer Space also conceptually describes the Mattress Factory itself -- an arts institution that is constantly pushing beyond its own walls; inhabiting and exhibiting in multiple buildings and well beyond. Their motto is aptly “art you can get into.” There is art all over. Art in all media: permanent and temporary, here and there. The Mattress Factory is hardly a traditional “white cube” exhibition space since the museum functions like a factory, housing and feeding the artists who produce the diverse range of works in this and every show.
For the nine artists in Inner and Outer Space, the physical building is addressed as a malleable form. Works are suspended out the windows; windowpanes -- the mediator of our inside and outside worlds --are put to work to help realize some pieces. Works continue between gallery walls and floors, and to the outside.
Additionally, as part of their artistic practice to push beyond the museum context, the artists formed collaborations with local artisans, scientists, fabricators, fashion models, and other Pittsburghers to share and implement their ideas and chose additional sites to engage with their work.
While working in a wide range of media and strategies, the artists share some concerns and investigations. Their work asks where we are and where we are going – both philosophically and physically. There is social commentary in much of the work, where the current state of our world geographically and politically is brought to light. Some installations challenge our sense of perception and notions of reality. There is an attempt to touch the sublime, to move beyond what is possible, to articulate a sense of wonder, and make a human connection in these ambitious works.
-- Dara Meyers-Kingsley, Guest Curator