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Film Still: 'La Bamba,' 1987

Lydia Rosenberg    Lamp Store
October 21 – November 18, 2023

527 N Taylor Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

“The language of this lamp, for example, communicates not the lamp (for the mental being of the lamp, insofar as it is communicable; is by no means the lamp itself) but the language-lamp, the lamp in communication, the lamp in expression…To whom does the lamp communicate itself?”
Walter Benjamin, On Language as Such and on the Language of Man, 1916.

here, Pittsburgh is pleased to present Lamp Store, a solo exhibition by Pittsburgh-based artist, Lydia Rosenberg. In the spirit of an actual store opening, the “grand opening” of Lamp Store will take place on Saturday, October 21st from 11am to 2pm.

With an innovative approach to sculpture and narrative, Lydia Rosenberg is interested in the impact of language on our perception of objects in the material world. Beginning each body of work by reading, Rosenberg is fascinated by the relationship between physical objects, the act of describing them, and the disconnect between words and reality.

Lamp Store marks the fourth installment of Rosenberg's ongoing “novel-as-sculpture” series, following a pattern established in previous shows, which featured lemons, spaghetti, and most recently, brooms. This series is an exploration of the interplay between language, narrative, and everyday objects. The narrative revolves around objects, prompting the creation of installations and events that both recreate and complicate the fiction. Rosenberg’s immersive approach to storytelling invites the viewer to consider the intersection of fiction, physical creation, and the act of describing.

Rosenberg was inspired by the concept of a lamp store after encountering several fictional lamps, notably in a passage from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov (1880), where an oil lamp transcends its role as an object and becomes a character in the narrative. Rosenberg, intrigued by this idea, has been casually seeking lamps in various narratives, incorporating them into her evolving storyline. The literal and metaphorical illumination that a lamp offers becomes a kind of character in not only Brothers Karamazov, but also in the plot of our everyday lives. As Rosenberg suggests, the lamp is the sculpture that gets to live in the house without losing the surface area to something more practical like storage, but also the lamp often becomes the embodiment of the supernatural as lights flicker in the presence of ghosts.

Much like Claes Oldenburg’s 1961 The Store, which directly challenged the commodification of art, Rosenberg presents her lamps as objects in a store-like format. However, unlike Oldenburg’s objects, Rosenberg’s lamps are functional. For Rosenberg, the store aspect is tied to the endless frustrations of work (a job), work (a livelihood), and work (art practice). Ultimately, the lamps represent the process of their making, the stories of their making, and the metaphor of their being.  

Lydia Rosenberg (b. 1987, Pittsburgh, PA) received her M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Art from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Recent exhibitions include Do this while I wait, Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA (2023); ¿Cómo vivir de ahora en adelante? Getting as close as possible to the truth, Galería Barrios Bajos, Valdivia, Chile (2022); Spaghetti Restaurant, Basket Shop, Cincinnati, OH (2019); The Complete Subject, Napoleon Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2019); Now Burning, Border Patrol, Portland, ME (2017) and Lydia Rosenberg, Phelan Sculpture Park, curated by Liz Park, Pittsburgh, PA (2016). The artist currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.

Installation view. Courtesy of Chris Uhren.