Artist Nina Katchadourian gives new meaning to the Mile High Club.
How Nina Katchadourian Uses Airplanes as Her Studio
by Julia Wolkoff
March 16, 2019
In 2010, Nina Katchadourian was awaiting takeoff on her flight from Atlanta to New York’s LaGuardia airport when she had a thought that would irrevocably alter her creative production.
“I have two-and-a-half hours ahead of me,” she recalled thinking in a recent interview with Artsy. “Why does it feel like this time already doesn’t count?”
The multidisciplinary New York–based artist was repulsed by the pervasive sense of powerlessness in the face of air travel. Determined to maximize her time on the plane and remain engaged during what is often a numbing experience, Katchadourian developed a kind of game to create things throughout the entire flight—an expansive project that has come to be called “Seat Assignment” (2010–present). “As an artist, I’m always looking at what more there might be in our mundane, everyday surroundings if we pay it interest, give it a second look,” she said. She hadn’t brought materials with her, so she began playing with whatever was at hand on her tray table, and documented the results with her camera phone.
Two-hundred-and-seventy-five trips later, Katchadourian is still making the most of in-flight magazines, complimentary peanuts, and cocktail napkins. She’s created hundreds of compelling photographs—including those in the project’s sub-series “Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style,” which became a riotous viral sensation—as well as video animations and a handful of surreptitious music videos filmed in airplane bathrooms. A good portion of the results from her creative experiment are now the subject of “IFICATION,” an exhibition on view at Fridman Gallery in New York through March 31st.