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Nina Katchadourian
Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by Cherie Louise Turner


Nina Katchadourian, ''Lavatory Self-Portrait in the Flemish Style #11,'' 2011, C-print, 13 3/8 x 10 7/8'', edition of 8.

 

Continuing through May 26, 2012

 

Brooklyn-based artist Nina Katchadourian delivers a brilliantly conceived body of work that reminds us that art can be found, and made, anywhere — even in the most limited and mundane of arenas: the public lavatory aboard an airplane. The "Lavatory Self-Portrait" series alone could define improv art. 

 

This entire exhibition, which is comprised of photographs – that is, photographed found-object collages and videos, was developed and created in-flight (on seventy different journeys) using a camera phone and various items commonly found on an airplane: magazines, pretzels, nuts, a neck pillow, napkins, and mints. 

 

The resulting work is humorous, funny even, and smart. It's a twist on trompe l’oeil with a wink toward surrealism; while we’re not exactly “deceived,” we are “tricked.” Everyday items readily, believably, stand in for what they aren’t. By combining incongruous objects in fun and surprising ways, we are made to rethink what is, and what could be. Pretzel crumbs on a magazine landscape photo are a rock slide. A well-placed neck pillow on the artist’s head and napkin around the neck turns an airplane-bathroom self-portrait into a fifteenth-century Flemish master work. A sweater crumpled just so becomes a gorilla face. An apple placed strategically on a magazine image of a climber ascending a snowy mountain becomes the ultimate obstacle to the summit. In a witty switch-up of René Magritte's pipe: this is not an apple, this is not a sweater, this is not an old master painting. 


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