Nina Katchadourian

Nina Katchadourian is completing a three year artist residency at the Exploratorium this year, and I’m looking forward to her final exhibit. She talks about the new exhibit in her Bad at Sports interview last fall. The interview is a great introduction to her work, which circles around the themes of wonder, dust, and boredom. Nina playfully deals with the mundane and limits in a way that reminds me how little I actually explore of life. Similar to Harrell Fletcher, her work challenges me to make the way I work and play in this place and time more profound.  Trading excuses for genuine curiosity. But that’s more about what I am putting into reading her work. It’s actually about things like birds and car horns.

Nina says, “I’m a great believer in misunderstandings as fruitful starting points for ideas. Moments of confusion produce an expansive mental space where a vast and reckless type of creative thinking becomes possible…When things make sense again, it’s actually a bit disappointing.” The artwork below started with a misunderstanding:

With two toilet paper rolls & a bird feeder, our family is becoming expert bird watchers.  The Lab of O at Cornell, which used to be in our backyard, has a long list of resources for children on birding as well as some clear birdcams.

When we were at Dia: Beacon, we encountered Louise Lawler’s Bird Calls, where she turns male artist’s names into bird calls. Stacey Allen describes it like this:

“…each name given its own specifically nuanced call: ‘Acconci’ is sung in a shrill staccato (‘acconCHEE!!’); ‘Gilbert & George’ takes a low-pitched chatter (‘Gilberengeorge, Georgengilber! Gilberengeorge!’ ); and ‘Artschwager’ has a manic squawk (‘aa-arrRRRT-SCHWAGERRRR!!!’).”

You can listen to the sound track here and try to match them to the male artist’s names below.

louise lawler

Now, when we take a walk, we debate what the birds really sound like… car horns or someone’s name?  Just don’t imagine it sounds like a bird. Make something new. Nina Katchadourian is currently showing in The Nest, through June 19th at the Katonah Musuem of Art outside of NYC.  I’m looking forward to seeing her in Explode Every Day at MassMoca this summer!


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