Performing Arts Forum

Arts et culture

The Mattress is an ongoing experiment by the Performing Arts Forum, an artist residency, intended to throw off the status quo of its dominant white presence. It finance free stays for non-white people who are interested in coming to PAF and for whom a discount would make a meaningful difference.

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The Mattress is an ongoing experiment intended to throw off the status quo of a dominant white presence at PAF—that is, to change the course of an otherwise Eurocentripetal spiral.

In pop culture lore, mattresses are infamously used as savings accounts — repositories of cash squirreled away, stuffed out of sight. PAF’s mattresses represent the bedrock (pun intended) of what PAF provides: a bare minimum of comfort and care in a space receptive to its inhabitants.

But mattresses also contain the potential for dynamic energy and change: the word mattress derives from the Arabic "madra", a place where something is thrown, and originally comes from the Persian "tarh" which means, in the context of finance, a discount.

While most of its visitors live in European cities, PAF does not reflect their actual demographics: most people who come to PAF are white, reflecting the historical exclusionary patterns of many European art institutions. This trend poses a problem for PAF as a truly receptive space.

Stuffed with cash earned through donations and fundraising, the Mattress will be liquidated—and continuously replenished—to finance free stays for non-white people who are interested in coming to PAF and for whom a discount would make a meaningful difference.

As an experiment, the Mattress is welcome to all ideas likely to improve the conditions for this change of culture, including the way to communicate about it.

Individuals and institutions are invited to donate to the Mattress by making a one-time or recurring donation.