A Performing Arts Forum Initiative

The Mattress

The Mattress is an ongoing experiment running out of the Performing Arts Forum (PAF) in St Erme, France. Formed out of conversations about racial and cultural asymmetries, the Mattress intends to throw off the status quo of a dominant white presence among the artists, theoreticians, and practitioners who come to 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. The mattresses at the Performing Arts Forum (PAF) 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 a historical pattern of exclusion enacted by many European art institutions. This trend poses a problem for PAF as a truly receptive space. 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.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.

stuff the mattress


Individuals and institutions are invited to donate to the Mattress by making a one-time or recurring donation in a unit of nights: 25€ supports one day, 175€ supports one week (7 days), and 700€ supports one month. This covers accommodation, dinners, the possibility of using the PAF car, as well as some transport costs.

liquidate the mattress

Come to PAF

If you would like to come to PAF by way of the Mattress or know someone who might like to, please send an email to [email protected]. Feel free to detail any specific requirements you may have, and state your dates and desired length of stay.