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India: New Installations, Part II show in Pittsburgh

To celebrate its three decades of existence, the Pittsburgh based Mattress Art Factory is presenting 'India: New Installations' an exhibition that runs in two parts.

Mattress Factory Curator, Michael Olijnyk and Executive/Artistic Director Barbara Luderowski visited India and selected artists to participate in the exhibitions that run till next year. The artists selected have visited Pittsburgh to live in residence at the Museum, and create new work on site.

India: New Installations, Part II, which continues till January 20, 2008, includes artists Anita Dube and Hema Upadhyay. Anita Dube is trained as an art historian and critic. Her work is determinedly individualized yet provocatively informed by its cultural context. She has developed an aesthetic language that is partial to sculptural fragment as a cultural bearer of personal and social histories.

Hema Upadhyay received her BFA in Painting and her MFA in Printmaking both from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda. Her work in mixed media and installation addresses issues of migration and displacement in India from her personal point of view while at the same time using Indian religious symbols such as the lotus or images from temple carvings.

Explaining the theme of her work, Anita Dube has mentioned: 'In India, we save everything; everything is re-used. The logic of capitalism is to have more, to have excess and therefore also to create more waste. I could have portrayed waste as a messy, repelling thing but I wanted the experience to be subtle where it unfolds and takes more time to understand. I think that attention spans are too short these days and artists need to have strategies to compete or combat this.'

In her '5 Words', a unique creation made of materials as diverse as steel, plastic mesh, found trash, drywall, paraffin wax, wood, books, salt, acrylic, pvc, rope light, everything is white because she didn't want colors to interfere with the conceptual process. The letters in W-a-s-t-e are containers covered in white mesh, filled with white discarded materials and objects. They are spaced on the floor so that the viewer can walk around them.

On the other hand, Hema Upadhyay's three sculptures made from matchsticks in the shapes of chandeliers are placed within the space. To the left, the first is hanging from a single wire, almost touching the floor. The second appears to have been crushed against the right side of the wall. The third is hung from the ceiling at the far end of the room. Shadows under each chandelier are made of black vinyl adhesive in the shape of the artist's silhouette in different poses.

According to the artist, the crux of the work is that it comes from the idea of using materials that are flammable, literally. A lot of these works stem from her own personal experiences in the city of Mumbai and are a response to what is happening all over the world in terms of war.

Elaborating on her work further, the artist explains 'In the city of Pittsburgh, and in my neighborhood here where I'm living, I have seen that a lot of homes are abandoned. It's almost like somebody just left and wasn't allowed to take their things. It kind of builds your own fantasy, and stories and myths about certain things and the objects from these homes.

Here she takes up a chandelier has a connotation of wealth, and mentions: 'In earlier days we may have thought that only rich people could afford chandeliers because they are made with crystals and semi-precious stones and things of that sort.

In this piece there's one chandelier crushed into the wall, so that it's almost breaking apart. One is hanging very pretty and one is just on the floor. The silhouettes now read as people who possessed these objects'they become the shadow of the object.'

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