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Nina Katchadourian


February 24 – March 31, 2019

Fridman Gallery is delighted to present multidisciplinary artist Nina Katchadourian’s first exhibition with the gallery, which spans her career and includes selections from the recent traveling museum retrospective Curiouser, organized by the Blanton Museum of Art.


Central to the exhibition is Seat Assignment, an extensive ongoing body of work made in-flight on airplanes using only a cell phone and found materials under conditions that seem unconducive to art making. After nine years and nearly 275 flights, Seat Assignment consists of hundreds of photographic works, music videos, and video animations. In-flight magazines, complimentary snacks, sugar packets, paper napkins, and sweater lint become ingredients in Katchadourian’s constructions made on the tray table, in her lap, and even in the airplane lavatory. The exhibition at Fridman Gallery will be the first comprehensive showing of Seat Assignment in New York.


The Recarcassing Ceremony (2016), a short film screened in the gallery’s media room, tells the story of an elaborate game Katchadourian and her younger brother played as children. The game involved two families of Playmobil figures. After a tragic event befell two of the characters, the siblings invented a “recarcassing ceremony” to bring the characters back to life. The ceremony was audiotaped by Katchadourian’s parents, and she rediscovered the tape thirty-five years later. Through a series of reenactments and interviews with her family, the film tells the complex story of the game and the sibling relationship that continues to frame it. 


Reflecting Katchadourian’s longstanding exploration of sound, language, and translation are two sculptural works: Talking Popcorn (2001) and Songs of the Islands (1996/1998).  Songs of the Islands is a collection of ribbons of loose audiotape found on the streets of New York and later restored. The piece is a sonic portrait of New York, reflecting the diverse languages, religions, and musical tastes of its inhabitants. Talking Popcorn is a commercial popcorn machine that decodes the popping sounds using Morse code and speaks out the results in real time. On view at Fridman Gallery will be the second, functioning iteration of the machine, along with the first one which self-immolated in 2008, and a new audio work that addresses its last words. A cryptologist, a psychoanalyst, a death doula, and a literary translator are among the many experts who have been asked to interpret and translate the dead machine’s final pronouncement.  



LIVE EVENT: On-Hold Music Dance Party

On March 7, 9:30–11 pm, the gallery will host Katchadourian’s On-Hold Music Dance Party (2017). For several years, Katchadourian recorded the music she heard while placed on hold during phone calls. She then collaborated with two New York-based DJs, Julie Covello (DJ Shakey) and Gabriel Willow (DJ Stylus), to sample, chop, loop, and mix this music with other “phone matter,” such as dial tones and voice prompts, transforming our usual experience of on-hold music into something highly activated, energized, and physically engaging.



Nina Katchadourian’s practice comprises video, performance, sound, sculpture, photography, and public projects. Her video Accent Elimination was included in the 2015 Venice Biennale in the Armenian pavilion, which won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. 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. A traveling museum survey of her work entitled Curiouser opened in March 2017 at the Blanton Museum of Art, continued to the Cantor Art Center in fall 2017, and concluded at the BYU Museum of Art in March 2018. The exhibition was accompanied by a monograph. Katchadourian is on the faculty of NYU Gallatin and currently lives between Berlin and Brooklyn. 

program of events:

Opening reception: Sunday, February 24, 6-8pm


Artist talk: Saturday, March 2, 5pm


On-Hold Music Dance Party: Thursday, March 7, 9:30-11pm


The Artist Behind the Famous Bathroom Selfies

The Cut

February 22, 2019

How Nina Katchadourian Uses Airplane Bathrooms as Her Studio


March 16, 2019

Goings On About Town: Nina Katchadourian

The New Yorker

March 21, 2019

Interviews: Nina Katchadourian


March 26, 2019

Nina Katchadourian Makes a World on an Airplane Seat Tray


March 30, 2019

On Hold Music Dance Party
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