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Cultures blend at gallery

By ROSS RADER

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“Double Consciousness”

“India: New Installations, Part I”

Various…

“Double Consciousness”

“India: New Installations, Part I”

Various Artists

The Mattress Factory

Through June 23, January 20

(412) 231-3169

Free with student I.D.

The Mattress Factory and its supplementary gallery space at 1414 Monterey St. – located down the street from the Mattress Factory – will feature artists from India and South Asia until June 23 and next January, respectively.

In one of the two new exhibits, “Double Consciousness,” guest curator Vicky A. Clark provides works from South Asian artists living in the United States and Canada.

On the ground floor of the Mattress Factory, Shelly Bahl’s video installation, “3 Operettas: Run Leela Run/Pas de Deux (Dance for Two)/Virahagni (Letter from a Lover),” can be found along with woodblock prints. Bahl’s three-channel digital video features short works in which a woman runs from the spectator, begging for safety. In the other screens, two women dance and another sits with a letter.

On the fourth floor of the Mattress Factory, Annu Palakunnuthu Matthew’s digital photographs and holograms are on display. In “Virtual Immigrant,” Matthew’s holograms show figures who are ethnically Indian morphing from Western clothing to traditional Indian garments. Bahl, whose work can also be found on this floor, presents her viewers with another visually unique piece in which red figures are printed onto paper towels.

In “India: New Installations, Part I,” stunning installations are on display from four of 10 artists chosen for a year long exhibition at 1414 Monterey St. Michael Olijnyk, curator of the Mattress Factory, and executive and artistic director Barbara Luderowski traveled to Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai in early 2006. They chose 10 artists to travel to Pittsburgh and work as artists-in-residence at the museum.

Sudershan Shetty’s “Pure” embraces spectators with its striking components. A tree made from PVC pipe rises from the white floors, spreading its bare branches into the gallery’s space. Its roots run along the floor, leading the eyes to a large glass case in the back of the room.

Within the case are clear vases of varying shapes and sizes stacked atop one another. A milky white liquid rains onto the vases, collecting inside some and running down the sides of others. In the front of the room, a stack of white plates rises from the ground, and video footage of a city street is projected onto them.

On the second floor of the gallery, Krishnaraj Chonat creates a jarring landscape in his untitled exhibit. In the corner of one of two rooms that Chonat has transformed, a Jacuzzi invites spectators to call to mind memories of comfort and tranquility. However, Chonat disturbs this image through the cracked clay floor which he installed. On one wall of this room, an image of an inverted jungle presents itself to the viewer and causes the room to take on a sense of chaos.

In Chonat’s second dimly lit room, the floors are completely covered in cracked clay. A tree with unearthed and exposed roots hangs from the ceiling in one corner of the room. The room’s darkness and the image of the uprooted tree calls to mind isolation and loss.

In sharp contrast to Chonat’s dark exhibit space, Navin Thomas’ space is white. Furniture and wall hangings are covered in white sheets, giving emphasis to a spherical nest in which a television and chair are embedded along with branches and trash. Dead grasshoppers strewn throughout the room and a transistor radio playing static cause an eerie sensation to arise within the space.

Through a set of doors, Mansi Bhatt’s 10 photographs can be found. Bhatt enhances her photographs with prosthetics and makeup, creating distorted and uncanny portraits. An unnaturally big smile and inflated cheeks give Bhatt’s photograph a surreal quality.

“Double Consciousness” will run until June 23, and “India: New Installations, Part I” will be on display until Jan. 20, 2008.

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Cultures blend at gallery