NEW YORK, NY.- Pace Gallery
is presenting Cumulus, a solo exhibition by interdisciplinary artist Nina Katchadourian featuring recent works and several major ongoing projects that have not been shown in New York since their first iteration. Known for her widely varied practice, which includes video, performance, sound, sculpture, and photography, Katchadourian presents four of her landmark projects: Paranormal Postcards; The Genealogy of the Supermarket; Sorted Books, featuring new installments to the series; and Accent Elimination, which was exhibited in the 2015 Venice Biennial as part of the Armenian Pavilion, winner of the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. The exhibition also debuts a suite of printmaking projects, including Lucys Sampler, an homage to Katchadourians Armenian adoptive grandmother. Together, the works on view examine themes of family, travel, displacement, portraiture, narration, and diaspora. In her signature style, Katchadourian continues to work with the apparently mundane, resulting in works that both subvert and activate the viewers usual sense of their life and surroundings.
Grounding the exhibition is Paranormal Postcards (2001 ), an enormous wall installation consisting of hundreds of postcards that the artist has been collecting during her travels, museum visits, and stops at souvenir shops over the past two decades. Each postcard is stitched through with red sewing thread that connects elements within the imagea format that allows Katchadourian to draw out hidden affinities and suggested subtexts, which she further amplifies by grouping and connecting postcards using a network of dotted red lines applied to the wall. Like a giant chart that seems to explain the latent relationships or power structures embedded in the world, the array of postcards makes visible, as critic Jeffrey Kastner has written, lines of force and sympathy between their improbable inhabitants, proposing a world connected in almost unlimited ways. In the context of the past year, the nostalgia for travel often associated with postcards takes on additional force. This is the first time Paranormal Postcards is being exhibited in New York since its initial presentation exactly 20 years ago, when it was a fraction of its current size.
The artists longstanding interest in the seductive veracity of chart-like structures also animates The Genealogy of the Supermarket (2005 ). Interpolating the characters who appear on common supermarket products into a giant family tree of framed photographs installed on vibrant red wallpaper, the work takes literally the fantasy of kinship that many of these items exploit in their branding strategy. Every time it is exhibited, the artist incorporates new family members sourced from local supermarkets. As such, the piece becomes an indicator of large-scale demographic changes, visible both in the faces that appear on everyday products and among the consumers who purchase them. The Genealogy of the Supermarket has not been shown in New York since 2005, and a number of new relatives make their first appearance at Pace.
Katchadourian worked with her own family in one of her best-known projects, the six channel video Accent Elimination (2005). Katchadourian, who is first-generation American, worked with her Finland-Swedish mother, Armenian father, and a professional accent coach in order to teach her parents how to speak with a so called standard American accent, while Katchadourian attempted to master each of her parents accents in turn. The piece shows them struggling to perform a scripted dialogue in their exchanged accents, revealing along the way the complicated origin stories of each parent, including the multiple displacements of her fathers diasporic Armenian family.
Katchadourians Armenian background is also the focus of a new work, Lucys Sampler (2020). The engraving with letterpress text depicts an embroidery sampler made by Katchadourians adoptive grandmother, Lucy, who was orphaned in the Armenian genocide around 1915 and later taken in by the artists paternal grandparents. The sampler, made by Lucy at age 12 while she was still living in an orphanage, is one of the only extant artifacts from her childhood. Katchadourian reproduced an image of the sampler by placing a piece of Plexiglas on the artifact and tracing over each of Lucys painstaking and carefully stitched marks with an engraving tool. This act of replication pays homage both to Lucys skill and to her lifelong caretaking of others. Two additional printmaking series, Whisker Prints and Window-Seat Suprematism, both from 2013, also are on view for the first time. Both are characteristic of Katchadourians attraction to working with self-imposed constraints. To make the Whisker Prints, Katchadourian limited herself to seventeen cat whiskers, each time placing them in a different formation on a deep-blue inked plate. The resulting monoprints resemble spare, reduced line drawings of sea creatures that live at extreme depths, sensing their way through the darkness. The Window-Seat Suprematism etching series is based on photographs taken by Katchadourian when seated over the airplane wing, where the lines, rivets, and indicator arrows are used to compose images that recall Suprematist collage.
Katchadourians longest ongoing project is Sorted Books, a photographic series that began in 1993. Pace is exhibiting a new suite of images made in response to an invitation by the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum to work with the sculptors personal book collection. Katchadourians process typically involves sorting through a collection of books, selecting particular titles, and arranging them into stacked groups so that the titles on the spines can be read in sequence as short sentences, phrases, or narratives. Past iterations of the project have made use of the Swedish playwright August Strindbergs personal library and writer William S. Burroughss book collection. The book arrangements become a form of portraiture that reflects not only the well known interests of an individual but also their surprising and sometimes contradictory obsessions, shedding a different light on the persons life and work.
This solo exhibition follows Paces recent presentation of Katchadourians Monument to the Unelecteda set of lawn signs created by the artist featuring the names of every candidate who ran for president of the United States and lostwhich was also presented at seven other venues in the lead-up to, and immediately following, the 2020 presidential election. Katchadourian is currently working on a permanent public sound work commission for Skissernas Museum in Lund, Sweden. In February 2023, Katchadourian will have a solo exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum, in which she will combine her work with objects drawn from the Morgans diverse holdings.
Nina Katchadourian (b. 1968, Stanford, California) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work includes video, performance, sound, sculpture, photography, and public projects. Her video Accent Elimination was included at the 2015 Venice Biennial in the Armenian pavilion, which won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. Group exhibitions have included shows at the Serpentine Gallery, Turner Contemporary, de Appel, Palais de Tokyo, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Turku Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, ICA Philadelphia, Brooklyn Museum, Artists Space, SculptureCenter, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library, and MoMA PS1. A solo museum survey of her work entitled Curiouser opened at the Blanton Museum in 2017 and traveled to the Cantor Art Center at Stanford University and the BYU Museum of Art. An accompanying monograph, also entitled Curiouser, is available from Tower Books.
Katchadourian completed a commission entitled Floater Theater for the Exploratorium in San Francisco in 2016 which is now permanently on view. In 2016 Katchadourian created Dust Gathering, an audio tour on the subject of dust, for the Museum of Modern Art as part of their program Artists Experiment. Katchadourians work is in public and private collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Blanton Museum of Art, Morgan Library, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Margulies Collection, and Saatchi Gallery. She has won grants and awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation, the Tiffany Foundation, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, Gronqvista Foundation, and the Nancy Graves Foundation. Katchadourian lives and works in Brooklyn and Berlin and she is a Clinical Full Professor on the faculty of NYU Gallatin. She is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery and Pace Gallery.