Extended through June 9, Nina Katchadourian's solo exhibition Seat Assignment is not to be missed! View the exhibition this Saturday, during the Yerba Buena Gallery Walk from 3 to 6pm, and check out her review in this month’s Artforum and the upcoming piece on ABC's Nightline.
Nina Katchadourian’s fifth solo exhibition at Catharine Clark Gallery, Seat Assignment, consists of photographs, video, and digital images made entirely in flight. The project began spontaneously on a flight from New York to Atlanta in 2010 and has continued on seventy subsequent flights to date. Acting “incognito” as a bored traveler simply killing time, Nina uses only her camera phone and materials readily available to her on the airplane to work in a highly improvisatory manner, yielding works that range from the humorous to the mystical and from the anxious to the sublime. Looking for overlooked points of interest in the mundane, Katchadourian works in response to the purgatory-like confines of air travel, when most people are trying to “just get through it”, and challenges herself to use the time to be observant, highly resourceful, and relentlessly creative. A picture in a travel magazine covered with crumbled pretzels become the scene of a landslide; a carefully-folded sweater resembles the face of a gorilla; an inflatable neck pillow and tissues, donned in the airplane lavatory, turn the artist into the subject of a Flemish portrait.
Processes such as collecting and sorting are operative in many of Katchadourian’s projects. In the Sorted Books series (1993 and ongoing), the artists reorders books in libraries and personal book collections and then photographs the results so that book spines become short phrases representing the content of the larger collection. For CARPARK (1994), incoming traffic was organized by color into 14 different parking lots on a community college campus. In The Genealogy of the Supermarket (2005), she organized the images of brand characters on common grocery store products into a family tree so that they all appear to be interrelated. Seat Assignment has also been organized into many sub-categories: Landscapes, High-Altitude Spirit Photography, Disaster Scenes, Provisional Shelters, Birds of New Zealand, Sweater Gorillas, Creatures, Extreme Sports, andLavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style, among others. TheSleepers series, also on view in the exhibition, show images of the passengers who have fallen asleep beside the artist on flights over the past two years. The photographs, displayed in a 20-foot wide row, become a composite view of the interior of an airplane.
A native Californian, Nina Katchadourian was born in Stanford and grew up spending her summers on a small island in the Finnish archipelago, where she still spends part of each year. Her diverse practice encompasses many media, including photography, sculpture, video, and sound. Her work has been exhibited domestically and internationally at venues such as PS1/MoMA, New York; The Serpentine Gallery, London; Dunedin Art Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand; New Langton Arts, San Francisco; Artist Space, New York; Sculpture Center, New York; and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Her work has been published in a number of national and international book editions, and has received critical attention in The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times,Art Review (UK), Art in America, ARTnews, and Artforum, among other publications. In June 2006 the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs exhibited a 10-year survey of her work and published an accompanying monograph titled All Forms of Attraction. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego presented a solo show of recent video installations in July 2008. In February 2010 she was the artist in residence at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in Dunedin, New Zealand, where she first exhibited the Seat Assignment series. Nina is currently at work on a permanent public piece, commissioned by the GSA, for a border-crossing station between the US and Canada. In the spring of 2013, Chronicle Books will release a monograph on Nina’s Sorted Books series. Katchadourian lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, and has shown with Catharine Clark Gallery since 1999.